Writer’s Block: Knock It Off About Knock Offs!

By Corinne Wnek

First came black Friday, which really started on Thursday, followed by cyber Monday. No matter how we label the day, this is the season when retailers hope that consumers will shop with their hearts instead of their heads. The good news is that Christmas can still be merry this year, but the bad news is that we’ll pay more for the merry part.

I thought we were cutting back or doing without these days because the economy, along with the family budget, is supposed to be in such dire straits. But anyone who was anywhere near a mall this past weekend would think otherwise. With no parking spaces to be had, it seemed as though merchants were giving everything away. Enticed by the bargains, markdowns and ‘huge savings’, shoppers prowled the stores searching for stuff, like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

In spite of a struggling economy, retailers seemed pretty happy with the post Thanksgiving shopping boom since weekend revenue topped off at over a few billion dollars! But after doing a little detective work of my own, I found out a few interesting things about what some people I know are really buying these days because I caught them red-handed. It seems that some shoppers are foregoing big name designer products in favor of designer-like products. In other words, the knockoff market is taking off like ever before.

Take boots, for instance. Walk anywhere today and just about every female you see is wearing some form of a cozy, suede boot. Think ‘Uggs’. But with prices creeping upwards to around two hundred dollars a pair, many women are getting practical this year and are reconsidering other brands that are just as warm and comfy and look every bit like the ‘real’ thing.

‘Coach’ handbags, always a welcome gift on any woman’s holiday list, are slowly but surely generating steep competition from fabulous knockoffs. What? You didn’t notice their signature embossing read ‘Goach’? The same ever-so-slight variations goes for genuine Louis Vuitton bags, too, where a slight change of a letter or stitching can be the difference between paying fifteen hundred dollars or one hundred and fifty dollars for essentially the same look.

But the most interesting conversation I had was with a soon to be engaged twenty-five year old woman who indicated that she couldn’t see the point of her fiancée spending so much money on an engagement ring when that money could go toward a whirlwind honeymoon or, catch me before I faint, a joint checking account. After all, she reasoned, with a cubic zirconia, she could still get all the sparkle she wanted and at the price she wanted. And who would know? This holiday season, a kiss on the hand may still be quite continental, but I really doubt that CZ’s are a girl’s best friend.

So, what’s wrong with buying knockoffs when the price of an original item is too steep? Depends on the knockoff. To be ‘wearable worthy’, they must be able to almost fool the most astute shopper. Poor knockoffs are never okay. Better to save up for the real thing or at least get an upgrade to a much better fake.

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