Style Diet: I Carried Around A Fake Designer Bag For Week

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Riley Park, Calgary, AB


I consider myself to be a freak flag flying authentic person for the most part. I say what I want, wear what I want, and do what I want. But like any grandiose verbal declaration, often times if you really are that already, you don’t need to say it out loud. In other words, sometimes there is new wisdom in testing what you thought you know about yourself.

While I have long been a fan of luxury fashion, for the most part I am an observer. There are few things better to me that window shop cruising in Holt Renfrew, reviewing the latest runway shows online, or watching a documentary on a major design house. The only thing better that comes to mind is actually holding the garment in my own, thirsty hands. The heartbreaking reality of returning said piece back to its retail home can be devastating. But I know it’s not for me just yet.

Aside from a few pieces found at a steep discount – be it at an outlet, via a second hand score, or borrowing something for a night or two – my wardrobe is quite modest when it comes to luxury labels. I see it – currently - as out of my league.

A few years ago I noticed that my city seemed to catch the high fashion logo buzz. I couldn’t walk into any mall, restaurant, or spin studio without noticing a logo-strewn bag. Believe me, I understand the allure. A big name bag in a brand that everyone lusts over in ridiculous leather all the way from talented craftspeople in from Europe is divine. It can be seen as a statement along the lines of, “I’m worth it.” Or “I’ve worked hard for this luxury item.” Also, did I mention it’s pretty?

The more cynical part of me thinks, “Well if everyone is doing it, that must be basic or boring.” The authentic contrarian in me wants to revolt. I want to tear down the accepted norm and desire to go against the grain. But then I see a lovely tote walk by me, and just like a magpie seeing something shiny, I look longingly.

Recently, on my rounds around shops, I found a faux bag of the Louis Vuitton-ish variety. After re-running the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha seeks out a counterfeit Fendi through my mind, I took it as a sign that I needed to investigate this tug-of-war hold on me via the Calgary “it” bag more seriously.

Of course I took it upon myself to try and try in my own way. I decide that for a week, I would tote it around everyday and see what I noticed in others and in myself. Questions immediately started bubbling up.

“Will people notice?”

“Can I wear the same bag for seven straight days?”

“What does it say about me that I desire the real deal?”

“Should I save up and buy a real one?”

“Fakes are bad, right? But how bad?”

 

Turns out, horribly bad. An older Harpers Bazaar article lays it all out in this sentence:

“…that counterfeiters and the crime syndicates they work with deal in human trafficking, child labor, and gang warfare; and that counterfeiting is used to launder money, and the money has been linked to truly sinister deeds such as terrorism.”

Gulp. Meet Lou. It’s my fake Louis Vuitton. Or as I sometimes joke, a “Fouis Fuitton.” I took Lou to client meetings, wardrobe edits, to exercise classes, out for dinner, and to a show at the Jubilee. It came with me on my errands, to the west coast, and out shopping for gifts. Basically when I left my home, Lou came with. Nasty ‘ol Lou. I took note of my observations.

Long story longer: while the self-consciousness was real, it was just my own. I don’t think anyone noticed. But I sure noticed. I felt like an imposter. I felt as though everyone’s was watching me but not in a, “She’s got interesting style,” way. More like, “Oh she’s into THAT generic bag” way. Let’s be clear: no one came up to me and said any of this. I let these stories fester and build up unsolicited in my own mind. Ultimately the fake bag made me feel like a fake. I knew it’s complicated, nasty past and the abhorrent industry it was a part of. This knowledge darkly coloured my perception. In simpler terms, because I was not feeling confident, I felt that other people could pick up on that self-doubt. Not a great look.

Though going through this exercise is a good reminder that style self-doubt happens regularly as part of the human condition, I personally do not like that feeling. It’s something that can be avoided through experimentation, education, and self-awareness. While I may have a complicated relationship with craving/having the real thing, I know for now that faking it is not my solution. Though finacially cheap to me, it costs too much. It pays to be real with others and true to the most important person you’ll ever know: yourself.