22
May
08

Knockoffs vs. The Real Thing: Does it Matter?

My friend Jill can’t understand my shoe budget. When I debuted my new Lanvin ballerina flats one weekend at the movies, she launched a full scale offensive about my frivolous spending habits, making sure to point out that the shoes she was wearing (which had heels, mind you) had come from The Gap and had been purchased for a mere $29.95.
It got me thinking. Was I a fool for spending $480 on a beautiful pair of flats when I could have bought a similar pair for hundreds less at The Gap? I sat there in the theater, Jill crunching popcorn in the seat next to me, enduring those ridiculous commercials they play now before the movie starts, and stared down at my beautiful satin shoes, almost willing them to reassure me: “Don’t worry Katie! We’re worth the money! She doesn’t know what she’s talking about–we’re Lanvin!”

A week later I was at the Beverly Center in L.A., shopping with my best friend, Teo, when we found ourselves within credit-card charging distance of the shoe department at Bloomingdales. A little shoe birdie had alerted me that the new gold gladiator sandal by Giuseppe Zanotti was blinking away, just feet from where we stood. Teo saw my eyes fixate on the shoe display and said, “Come on, let’s go to DSW, they have all of those shoes and they look just as cute, they’re just not as expensive.”

The needle on my little mental record player screeched to a stop. I looked at Teo. Was she serious? “Come on, give it a try, we can always come back,” she said. Oh boy, she was on a roll. Maybe she saw the doubt in my eyes, maybe it was Jill’s lecture the week before… “Ok,” I said, and allowed myself to be led away from the light, towards the mean, nasty shoe discount store, that I’m sure had to be somewhere in the bowels of the Beverly Center.
When we got there, I perused the aisles of discount shoes. I could have been suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but I did see some cute possibilities. Teo convinced me to buy a pair of gladiator sandals by a designer I’d never heard of. This is what I’ll say about them: They had the look of the Giuseppe Zanotti sandals, I wouldn’t say they were as cute, but they were a very affordable $39.95.
Skip to two weeks later. I’m totally depressed, the DSW sandals I bought broke the third day I wore them. So much for $39.95. If I multiplied that price by the money I’d have to spend replacing those shoes after 3 wears, would I get the price equivalent of my original Giuseppe Zanotti sandals? Who knows?
After a bit of a think on the subject, I came up with this: Perhaps $480.00 is a lot of dough to spend on a pair of flats, but if you work hard for your money and spending it on shoes makes you happy, why not go for it?
It’s like that Sex and the City episode where Samantha and Carrie drive to “The Valley” to get their hands on a cheap knockoff designer bag. It’s a good idea in theory, and it may fool your friends, but in the end, won’t you still be one that knows you bought a fake? I’d rather invest in something that is the real deal, because let’s face it, people around you may not know your shoes or your bag is a knockoff….but you will, and where’s the thrill in that?

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