Almost everyone I know has experienced buying fake merchandise instead of the original as means to save money. If you think about it, why waste so much money on the original when you can get something similar for so much cheaper? Counterfeit or fake merchandise nowadays have improved as well and it's almost hard to distinguish from the real and fake product. So as long as it's cheap and looks legitimate, then it seems to be worth buying.
According to Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies, there are two ways to look at imitation. One would be, "Imitation... is typically a view from above since it assumes that social inferiors envy superiors and engage in imitative activities to emulate their 'betters' in order to gain recognition and even entry into the privileged group." The second way would be viewed as, "[from the beginning,] first of a superior's defects, and then, little by little, of other traits peculiar to him, fashion has ever tended towards equalization (Kawamura 20)."
I believe you can say both regarding purchasing fake products. Consumers who buy imitations either want to be like the rich celebrities they see with name brands or they want to be "in" and save money and not be looked down upon as being poor. Perhaps it's all that and maybe more.
As for myself, I love Vivienne Westwood but as a college student relying on financial aid, I am not able to purchase the real merchandise. However, I was able to find a knock-off of a necklace I wanted for $30 on eBay. It looks almost exactly the same but the material is of lower quality. Who would be able to notice unless I point out the little details? Pretty much, I'm glad I bought the knock-off Vivienne Westwood necklace even though the quality's not that great. I'd like to pretend I'm rich every now and then... but doesn't everyone?
The real Vivienne Westwood lighter necklace
[image source: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/jimu/016083/ ]
The fake Vivienne Westwood lighter necklace
[image source: http://www.polyvore.com/ai_yazawas_nana_merchandise_shins/thing?id=12599770 ]
In Designing Clothes: Culture and Organization of the Fashion Industry by Veronica Manlow, it claims that "counterfeiting keeps the fashion cycle moving by creating new desires... Counterfeiting creates an awareness of the brand an an aspiration for acquisition amongst people otherwise outside the scope of such consideration. Unable to afford the genuine article, the unlikely consumer nevertheless becomes socialized as to the value of the brand as a means of distiniction. The fact that so many people want it and so few can actually have it, contributes to waht Vince Carducci (2003) calls the "aura' of the brand. While some consumers seek out counterfeit items, otheres pursue status through legitimate, more accessible channels- the moderately priced Nine West, Express, or XOXO purse that imitates the style and logoed design of high-end products (12)." So in other words, sometimes counterfeit merchandise isn't all that bad since it keeps the fashion cycle going.
[Consumer Challenge update]
Since class started, I haven't bought anything except for food and other necessities... I'm pretty sad that I can't buy any materialistic items at the moment... At the moment, the challenge isn't too bad...
- Hope (Hyeon) Nam
[inside source: Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology: an Introduction to Fashion Studies. Oxford: Berg, 2005. Print. ]
[outside source: Manlow, Veronica. Designing Clothes: Culture and Organization of the Fashion Industry. New Brunswick, [N.J.: Transaction Pub, 2009. Print. ]