Sorry Kanye West, Cheef Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean, Jadakiss, and anyone else who don’t like fake Gucci. The following is not for you.
After also being ruefully against knock-off designer goods for years, curiosity paired itself with my shrivelled bank account one fateful Monday afternoon and, before I knew it, I was drowning in the deep seas of a fake designer bag forum online.
As it turns out, I am not alone. My “curiosity,” which is more accurately be described as a necessity to own designer labels I can’t afford, is shared by millions of people worldwide. This is why the knockoff industry is a multi-million dollar marketplace, one that rivals and often triumphs over the haute-couture labels it imitates. Despite chronic crackdowns, countless lawsuits and trademark infringement claims, the replica trade has only continued to grow. This exponential boom has acted to feed the counterfeit wildfire: every time a distributor is shutdown, five more pop up in its place. New suppliers seamlessly replace their predecessor.
After noticing many of the once-touted suppliers on the forum had been shutdown, I realized the forum’s patrons seemed largely un-phased—operating, instead, like clockwork around the supply vs. demand wheel of counterfeit products. As one supplier closed its doors, several others began operation. A pubic service announcement was then posted to notify guests. A briefing to tilt the good away from the bad followed and, within moments, equilibrium was restored.
Realizing that @purse_luver2001, being a leader in the forum’s news cycle, meant business with her reviews, I opted to try a little known, horrifically designed website called “VancoFashion.” Compared to Purse Valley and Posh Moda, the Walmart-esqu giants of knockoff handbag production, I decided Vanco’s small-scale operation would ensure a more personable experience. As I would soon discover, the experience was less personable and more of an blind pilgrimage through the pillars of the Internet. It was one that tested my courage, patience, strength and perseverance. Here, the phases of acquiring a fake designer bag broken down into four easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1: Choosing your supplier
You are standing at the pearly gates. Before you lays a hundred twisted paths, all with different URLs, claiming to lead to the same destination: designer-ish handbag ownership. After hounding the regulars on Purse Princess and The Replica Guru, you will decide on the right path. Some will offer 24/7 Internet “counseling” services; others will promise discounts on your next purchase. This is your time to shine. Before confirming your selection, a quick Google search of the name of the website beside the word “scam” is highly recommended. As you begin to embark on your journey you may flirt with the idea of actually passing off a fake Hermes Birkin as the real deal. Have no fear. After envision explaining your “$10,000” purchase to people who actually know you, you will find this thought, too, shall pass. Shortly after, you’ll settle on something you decide is more “realistic”. Deep down you know none of the options are realistic. As you confirm your order, you ask yourself what went wrong to lead you to this point.
Step 2: Payment
Here you are in a virtual line with your perfect, “realistic” bag choice. Now, time to question your instincts. You will discover some suppliers provide payment options like credit or PayPal. If, however, you opt for a supplier who only accepts MoneyGram transfers, this is where the real fun begins. MoneyGram, incase you’re not familiar, is a third party money transferring service that does not accept online transactions. For a money transferring service you will recognize this is weird. “But is it wrong?” you ask yourself. You know it’s not right.
Enter, perseverance. You, the transferor, are now required to find a MoneyGram location and physically attend said location to pay the required amount. After forking over a wad of cash—no credit accepted—you will receive this warning:
MoneyGram lady: “Do you know the person who you’re sending this money to?”
MoneyGram lady: “Where is it being sent?”
MoneyGram lady: “To someone you don’t know?”
You: “I mean, I read some reviews about them online…”
MoneyGram lady: “You know, this could be a scam. Once you send your money you can’t get it back. We get a lot of scams and offer no refunds. Are you sure you want to do this?”
Suddenly, owning something resembling Gucci doesn’t seem so promising anymore. If you answer yes—feeding yourself the idea that with great risk comes great reward—welcome to Step 3: Feeling shitty about your life choices.
Step 3: Feeling shitty about your life choices/Patience is a virtue
After forking over a wad of cash and walking away empty handed, you will realize there is no turning back and ask yourself: Did I choose the right company? Should I tell people it’s real? Did I just consent to being robbed? And, will I ever actually get my bag?
It’s time to viciously hunt for a sign of assurance to rise out of the ashes of uncertainty and tell you about your fantastic soon-to-be bag. During this game of hide and seek, you will meet the client services representative of your respective supplier. In my case, this was Meixian Wei, or, “BoBo” for short. I first met BoBo after receiving no confirmation of payment from VancoFashion. We became fast friends when weeks went by without any updates on the progress or shipment of my bag. I knew it was real between us when, after weeks of holding my breath, I finally received shipment information in the form of a tracking number. The dream I had poured three anxiety-bitten nails into was about to be realized.
Step 4: The wait is over
As I lifted my Gucci Disco bag out of its wrapping the softest black leather stared back at me. Two raised “G” symbols lifted themselves off the buttery dark surface. The question, I realized, wasn’t whether or not I could pass the bag off as real, the question was whether or not I wanted to. This decision left two paths: lying and not lying. Yet, by buying fake Gucci haven’t you already lied?
In the end, regardless of what route you choose to carry your designer-ish bag down, one truth will always prevail: you are a liar.
But at least you look cool now.