On Wearing A Knock-Off But Praising The Original

My Barbour Knock Off from Zara, Taking a walk at Stavenhof in the Eigelstein quarter, Köln

Do you wear designer knock-offs? If you’re buying from high street retailers chances are high that you do.

Most people including me would never be caught wearing an obvious fake, like the ones sold during vacations at tourist bazaars. But they’re perfectly fine with knock-offs from high street chains.

It is convenient because as a regular consumer you are so detached and the price is oh so tempting. In many cases knock-offs can be flattering for a brand and are anyway out of competition as for most people a ZARA trapeze bag is as close as they will ever get to Céline. It gets quickly into non-fun zone when not so expensive or newcomer brands get copied.

I admit this is sadly the case with my jacket here:

Barbour Copycat From Zara Stavenhof Eigelstein Köln
My everyday attire. Talking a walk Im Stavenhof at Eigelstein quarter.

Maybe some of you will recognize the similarity with the traditional Barbour wax jacket, the characteristic outerwear of British aristocracy and newly riches all around the world, and really, I have to say it’s a perfect copy. ZARA only skimped on quality, not on design and still it served me good during the two years I own it.

Creative goods like garment design are hard to protect and though laws in Europe have been changed in favor of designers since 2002 it remains hard to proof a copy-cat at court. At some occasions smaller designers reportedly have relied on social media causing shit storms through their supporters.

In Germany an original Barbour sells around 300 Euro which is in my opinion reasonable priced. But still compared to the 100 Euro I spent for the copy-cat a lot of money especially when you consider that I am a student with low income and needed a jacket mostly for wearing at my job in archeology where you crawl around in the dirt all the time. A Barbour wax jacket is a staple under from me much admired old school archeologists and since I spent some time with a particular Italian scholar who looked incredibly stylish and well equipped with his, no matter in what circumstance we got into, I am OBSESSED.

And I am sure to buy me the original soon but two years ago I simply couldn’t resist the low price and decided to sort of test-drive the knock-off first. The one million pockets are so useful and I wore it in every weather condition and not only to work. Surely in winter I needed to layer underneath a lot. Also I have to point out that the coating wasn’t wax but rather consisted of something synthetic which held snow and rain at bay, too.

Now, slowly it starts to build a patina with holes which other than at the original ain’t cool. While I would keep an original Barbour my whole life and hand it down to my grandchildren, or so, this jacket I think, I will have to throw it out soon if decline continues as fast.

The knock-off was still a success for me and enabled me to see how good design influences function. I think this is crucial as it reveals with overtaking a design you don’t just simply steal the appearance of a product but also the whole concept of it. I can imagine how even better the original jacket of this British heritage brand must be! Sorry Barbour for not coming to you in first place!

And again it proofs that especially with classics you are definitely better off saving a little and spending the money on the original. There is a reason it’s a classic, no…?

What do you think of obvious fakes from high street chains? Is it ok when they copy not so über-expensive heritage brands?


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