When A Label Knockoff Is Much More Than A Rip-Off

Most tourists that visit New York know that if you want a Coach bag, but don’t want to pay Coach prices, you can head down to Chinatown and buy a Coach knockoff for a fraction of the designer price. The counterfeit business is a multimillion dollar illegal industry, and you’d be surprised how many fashionistas are carrying fake Fendis. So, that’s one kind of counterfeiting; but there’s a whole other style of knockoffs — homemade knockoffs.

Not long ago, artist Luis Gispert became obsessed with logo counterfeiters — people who ripped off designer logos and made custom designs with them for their clothing, cars and in some extreme cases, houses. Gispert’s new solo show at New York’s Mary Boone Gallery, titled “Decepcion,” chronicles those logo obsessives, who see their work as more of an homage to the aspirational lifestyle of luxury brands than a desire to pass off their wares as genuine. Gispert believes these people shouldn’t be seen as a threat to luxury brands because in most cases they’re not even trying to sell the things they make. “The way I see it, they weren’t copying anything. This wasn’t a Canal Street kind of industry, in that they were imitating something you’d find at a high-end store and then selling it. They definitely weren’t trying to mimic high fashion. They were translating it into their own thing, which compounded the weirdness of it.” And that’s what moves so much of this label love work away from straight rip-off: The counterfeits are often done in such a way that there’s no way they could possibly be mistaken for an authentic item (see fake Louis Vuitton dress above).

But is it art? Gispert says yes. “It’s very involved and personal. The level of obsessiveness that goes into making this stuff — especially the cars — is really extreme, I would argue at the same level as that of an artist.” [NYMag]

Want to contact the author of this post? {encode=”[email protected]” title=”Email her”}