Vetements beats the fake fashion market at its own game

Paris-based fashion label Vetements teamed up with luxury fashion retailer Matches Fashion to hold a ‘Garage Sale’ in Seoul, South Korea. But this wasn’t just a simple sale – this was a cheeky comment on the destructive fake fashion market, which is big business in Korea, with Vetements rip-offs being sold at malls such as Doota. Counterfeit designer garments are in huge demand across the world, lowering quality to offer a more affordable price to customers coveting high fashion without the accompanying price tag.

Yet many of these products are actually well made, interesting reworks of designer products. Vetements CEO Guram Gvasalia recognised this, and decided to use their collaboration with Matches Fashion to take their bestselling items and ‘fake’ them themselves. This was titled the ‘Official Fake’ Capsule Collection, which reworked the key pieces from Spring 2015 to Fall 2016. Vetements took prints from existing garments and to make a new item in the same pattern; copied their hoodies and t-shirts that had their definition printed on them and did the same design on a raincoat. The capsule also included inside-out jeans, logo sweatshirts, and red and black caps that read ‘cap.’

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The Garage Sale, which took place in a remote warehouse, attracted a horde of fans of the brand, decked out in Vetements garments, many even daring to wear the very fakes that the capsule collection playfully references. The raincoats were sold out in just 12 minutes, and about 700 hoodies were gone in an hour.

The fake fashion market, which often severely compromises quality and copies the products that designers have worked tirelessly to create, clearly undermines the fashion industry. According to a report by Europe’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) 10% of all fashion products (clothes, footwear, and accessories) sold in Europe are counterfeit. This costs European brands 9.7% of their total annual sales, which overall equates to a loss of €26.3 billion, and €17 billion worth of sales are lost in related areas. This means 518,281 direct and indirect jobs are lost due to the impact of fake fashion.

 

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These are severe effects from a black market that many may view as harmless and simply convenient, allowing access to the hottest labels with a lower price. But this comes at a cost for others: income and jobs, and not to mention the amorality of ripping off a designer’s artistic integrity and their intricately crafted designs. Exclusivity, unique brand identity, and high quality are essential elements to designer brands, but these are being compromised by cheap fakes. The increase of ‘mirror websites’ that aim to deceive customers into thinking they’re buying an original and therefore expect the brand’s level of quality, can also greatly damage the designer’s reputation. Last year the luxury group Kering, which includes top fashion brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, sued online commerce company Alibaba for encouraging counterfeiting of their products.

Vetements and Matches Fashion’s Garage Sale also further highlighted issues in the fashion industry by leaving all the rubbish they produced when creating the collection on one side of the warehouse, hoping to make visitors aware of the amount of waste we create in the world. They say if you can’t beat them, join them, and that’s just what Vetements did here with the fake fashion market, one-upping it and beating it at its own game rather than simply protesting it.