The case against dupe culture

Cheaply made look-a-likes are destroying the integrity of designer pieces

Image by: Amna Rafiq
It's time to value more than just a look of an item.

The rising interest in for sustainable clothing and support for small designers are being overshadowed by micro-influencers dedicated to finding inexpensive dupes for goods that one may not typically want to spend for. 

While it’s seemingly inconsequential to purchase said copies from stores like Amazon or Shein, the truth is far from it.

The phenomenon of ‘dupes’ is nothing new. While owning one was previously cast as shameful, TikTok’s youthful creators and viewers have adopted ‘knockoffs’ or ‘copies’ with pride. To the average consumer lacking disposable incomes, the choice to pay a fraction of the price for a supposedly identical itemseems obvious. 

Social media’s ground-breaking setting for trend cycles to rapidly flourish and dissipate serves as the most persuasive form of consumer capitalism to the growing generations. The desire to acquire a certain aesthetic or look feeds a disillusioning relationship between consumer and producers.

A reality check is necessary. Overwhelming detachment between consumers and methods of production has resulted in cycles of cheaply-made clothing, which rips off small designers, through the supply chain. 

Not only is the integrity of the designer disrespected, but the $300 dress you found on Amazon for $10 was absolutely made through exploitative labour. The desire to acquire a certain look or aesthetic is feeding this detachment. 

For designer brands, the lack of concrete plagiarism laws creates a power imbalance between them and small brands pumping out cheap replicas that won’t last. 

To the financially conscious person: this is not a preach to refrain from inexpensive purchases, but rather a call to action on how to better consume and enjoy your products. 

Thrifting, for example, has recently been spotlighted as an alternative to expensive shopping. It’s a conscious effort to lessen one’s own waste through second hand purchasing. There’s absolutely no shame in keeping your limits within what you can afford, but critically reflecting on how you consume fashion is necessary.  

It’s a difficult conversation to navigate when the industry is so cruel and money driven, however it’s vital to consume consciously in a world moving at such an unsustainable pace. 

Style is not dependent on trends or newness—online presences have tricked consumers into this belief. 


Personal style is created from clothes that make you happy and you identify with. 

Sure, this could be the Mirror Palais dress you’ve been eyeing for a while, but deciphering the value of your desire versus the lost value to designers/labourers is vital. 

Shifting your perspective from surface-level respect for the clothing you own to seeing them holistically as goods that are designed, created, and sent out for your pleasure is far more important than flexing knock offs.

Navigating the climate crisis requires a disillusionment from the supply chain. By approaching your consumption with an understanding for the production cycle, you not only weaken your personal carbon footprint, but also respect the designers who’s clothes you admire as art. 

The World Economic Forum has declared the fashion supply chain as the planet’s third largest polluter. The worsening climate crisis calls for a necessary change in how we consume clothing and what value we give to achieving a desired style.

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