Once upon a time, in a land that was pretty much identical to the world we live in today, there was a counterfeit problem. The counterfeiters were reviled the world over. They were, insisted the fashion and makeup brands, a drain upon society - and in general, we the consumers tended to agree. Fake was bad; fake was dangerous; fake was to be avoided.
Then over time, the attitude began to change. Unsurprisingly, it followed on the heels of a financial recession, when everyone had a little less money in their purses. Suddenly, even the most respected of magazines was touting the idea of “dupes”. Dupes were, the accompanying articles and bloggers said, the new thing. An exact match for high-end products, but made by another company and without the extortionate price tag.
Oh, how this world rejoiced! The same effect (or close to it) from our fashion and cosmetics, but with more money leftover from our wages?
Reading the above, it’s quite strange to consider what has happened with dupes. Are they the same as the counterfeit of old? Is there something that differentiates them?
Perhaps (But Not Really)
The difference comes from what you perceive to be a dupe. If there’s a high-end cosmetic product, for example, then it will have particular packaging. It will come in particular colours which boast of particular benefits.
If another company then makes a product with the same packaging, the same colours, the same benefits - is that a counterfeit?
Some would say that the difference is in the intention. The dupe product is not claiming to be the actual high-end; it’s claiming to be ‘inspired’ by it. This is a very thin line, but ultimately, it’s one that’s getting past intellectual property lawyers. So it looks like dupes are here to stay.
Are Dupes Worth It?
Dupes are now crossing into all areas of life. We have dupes for expensive stationery; for food and drink products - maybe we’ve reached a saturation point, but the thirst for the market is yet to slow.
The problem is dupes don’t always do quite what they promise. They might have a similar effect to the ‘inspiration,' but they won’t always work as well. A dupe for the cult favorite Urban Decay ‘Naked’ palettes won’t have the staying power the original does. The coffee from a dupe for a La Marzocco is never going to quite produce the same results as the real thing. A dupe of Christian Louboutin heels will never be quite so well manufactured as the genuine item.
The Dupe Domino Effect
One of the major problems with going for dupes of any kind - be it cosmetics, foods, appliances or clothing - is that you might not get a suitable product. That means when it fails to meet expectations, you have to then buy the original to get the result you wanted. So rather than just paying, for example, £50 for the real thing, you pay £10 for the dupe as well as £50 for the original. The end result is that your cheap, cost-effective option actually ends up costing you more.