Sunday, September 7, 2008

Want knock-offs from Prada, Gucci, and Diesel? Just GUESS which store you should shop.

Before I started this blog, I created a list of topics that I wanted to discuss- you know, to make sure I had enough ideas to make this blog worth while. Well, I thought I had a great little piece worked out for today dealing with the popularity of designer logos, but my shopping trip to Macy’s tonight made me change my mind. The “logos” debate can wait; tonight I want to talk about Guess, while my thoughts are still fresh. Here is how the whole thing got started…

Strolling through the Men’s Shoe Department, I was keeping my eye out for a decent pair of loafers. It has become a tiny obsession for me recently and until I can bring myself to buy the pair from Prada that I truly want, or find a cheaper alternative that I like just as much, I will continue to pay attention to them in every department store I enter. But what I saw tonight did not bring an end to my mania, it heightened it. At first glance, I could have sworn the loafers sitting right in front of me were none other than the famous Gucci loafers, complete with tan “guccisima” print, which now adorns almost every piece of merchandise the Gucci brand has to offer.
The thought evaporated in my mind almost as quickly as it had formed and was replaced by questions instead. “Since when does Macy’s (especially the store in my suburban town mall) carry anything but Gucci sunglasses?” I asked myself. Then I noticed the red sticker placed on the stand holding the shoes… “AND SINCE WHEN DOES IT GO ON SALE!?” I stared at the distorted print a second longer and realized that this was no Gucci loafer, it was Guess! I had been momentarily fooled… now they had really gone too far.

I have always thought Guess was a little too obvious in their mimicking of high fashion. I realize that “high-street” stores like Zara and Gap are meant to offer designer trends to a market that cares about fashion but can’t afford the high-end merchandise of French and Italian luxury brands, but Guess always seemed to go further than that. Let’s say Versace creates a line of purple and black dresses and then one month later, purple dresses and black leggings are displayed on mannequins in the front of an H&M. This happens all the time and it is fine with me. If a cotton purple dress is what you want, and you are not trying to pass it off for something it isn’t, then great. Many times, a $50 dollar dress can look as good as a $500 one. But taking the famous Gucci “G’s”, Prada’s iconic triangular metal logo, and the embroidery on the back pocket of Diesel jeans and calling them your own? It seems as though the company isn’t just taking trends, it is taking trademarks from famous fashion retailers! I mean, maybe I am looking into this too much, so have a look at the pictures and decide for yourself. I believe that even people that don’t care about labels will notice the blaring similarities.

While I think this practice of ripping off other companies is terribly tacky of Guess, it is not to say I dislike the brand entirely or think people should stop shopping there. I just think that one should be careful when making purchases from the store – are you getting something original for a better price than you would at Neiman’s or are you buying what might as well be called a knock-off?

To highlight my point one final time, I thought I would share a story about a shopping trip I took with my sister and her friend recently to Union Square after I came home from a five week trip to Shanghai. We were in Gucci looking at women’s shoes when I went over and picked up a pair of heels covered in the Gucci “G’s” and showed them to my sister. “Look at these,” I said. “I would never buy these. These are $400 dollar shoes, but when I was in China there were people trying to sell us the fake ones for like $20! They were everywhere! I just could not bring myself to buy shoes that cost this much if I thought people would just assume they were knock-offs.” To my horror, I realized a sales representative was standing not more than ten feet away from me, and by the grin on his face I could tell he heard me. He started to walk over, and just as I thought I was going to get some kind of light reprimand for calling his merchandise tacky, he smiled and said, “You don’t have to go all the way to China. A lower quality version of that shoe is in the display window at Guess right down the street.”
Guess? I am not the only one who sees a similarity.

1 comment:

Almatron said...

Oh, WTJ. You would.
And why are you up at 4:30 in the A.M.!