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What’s the difference between fakes, dupes and replicas

What’s the difference between fakes, dupes and replicas

difference designer dupes, fakes, replicas

Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Eve Dawes

The terms fake, replica and dupe are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between them and the legalities. Here’s how to tell the difference between designer dupes, replica and fake designer goods and tips for avoiding counterfeits. So lets take a closer look at fakes and replica vs dupes.

designer dupes pink satin platform heels shoes
Pink satin platforms dupes NOT fakes (no logos, brand name, etc) but they look similar to a designer pair.

What’s a counterfeit or fake designer item

A fake or counterfeit is an item that is made to look like a genuine product, but is not actually made by the original manufacturer and sold for a lot cheaper. They’re illegal to sell in the US. Fakes are often made with inferior materials and craftsmanship and sometimes contain toxins and dyes which can be extremely harmful to your health.

They may not have the same features or functionality as the genuine product but try to pass off as the real deal. Often by using fake trademarks, logos, the brand name and even authenticity certificates and numbers. Which is some of the many reasons they’re illegal to make and sell.

What’s a replica designer item

A replica designer piece is an item that is made to look like a genuine product, but is not intended to deceive. They do not have fake trademarks, logos or the original brand name. Generally replicas, as long as they’re not trying to pass as the real deal are legal.

What’s a designer dupe?

A designer dupe or dupe is pretty much the same as a replica and sold in many stores like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, River Island, etc. It’s an item of clothing, shoes, jewelry, or bag, etc that is similar to a genuine product, but is not an exact copy or trying to pass off as the real deal.

Dupes may be made by different manufacturers, or they may be made with different materials or craftsmanship. Dupes are often sold at a lower price than genuine products, and can be a good option if you are looking for a budget-friendly product.

They’re still trying to duplicate someone else’s work so it’s up to you to decide on the ethics, I’m not endorsing them one way or the other but they’re not illegal. Hence them being in a lot of High Street stores and all over Etsy and Amazon.

difference fake and dupes
Designer dupe not fake Tony Bianco

Like these pink satin crystal bow heels which were a popular designer style but have been heavily copied by lots of high street stores from Lulus to Public Desire to Tony Biano on Revolve.

designer dupes shoes pink satin crystal bow

Whats the difference: fakes vs replicas vs dupes

It is important to be aware of the differences between fakes, replicas, and dupes when purchasing products:

  • Fakes are illegal, often lower quality and may not be safe to use. 
  • Replicas and dupes are not genuine products and do not try to pass off as the the real deal. They are not exact copies and do not use fake logos and trademarks.

How to avoid counterfeit and fake designer goods

If you’re only interested in buying authentic goods here are some tips for avoiding fakes, replicas, and dupes:

  • Buy directly from the boutique, reputable dealers or retailers.
  • Look for signs of counterfeiting, such as poor craftsmanship, misspellings, or missing logos or the source you’re buying from.
  • Ask the seller questions about the product’s authenticity.
  • Do lots of research before making a purchase if it’s not from the brands boutique or a well known online store like the Real Real or Fashionphile.
  • Does the price reflect one of a fake or genuine product.
  • Check product reviews to get an idea of the quality and it’s authenticity.
  • For more buyer protection use a credit card when purchasing online in case it turns out to be a fake.
  • Since there tends to be a higher risk of counterfeit products being sold overseas (I’m not going to name countries) be careful when purchasing abroad.

If you are even remotely unsure about the authenticity of a product, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid buying it. You can always contact the manufacturer or the retailer to ask for verification.

Counterfeit goods are produced with the malicious intent to deceive and mislead people into believing that the items are genuine when they are not. However, replica goods are not passed off as the original products. Instead, they are acknowledged to be merely identical to the branded goods.

Red Points

To dupe or not to dupe

Most people sit either one side or the other on this so it’s entirely up to you. Obviously stay away from illegal fakes but when it comes to dupes that’s personal. You can pick up designer dupes from major stores to be able to recreate a certain aesthetic without spending a fortune.

I buy both designer and dupes for different reasons. Judge away but I like to buy dupes of trending pieces that I know will date or damage easily like light satin platform shoes and invest in pieces I know will last. So you do what feels right to you.

If you do buy dupes and replicas (not fakes) and want to save money be sure to get them from a well known store and make sure they don’t have any fake logos or trademarks.

None of this article is intended or designed to be used as legal advice. It is purely a research piece, my opinion and not to be used as a definitive article on this topic.


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