I stepped through the battered dark door into the little shop, like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. The chaotic street behind me, filled with cows and Tuk Tuk rickshaw cars merged into a cool air conditioned bubble. My mum had been raving about this shop the whole flight to India. It was fake designer bag paradise, apparently. I’d never been in a store like this before. The walls were completely covered floor to ceiling in bags. Maybe you know the kind.
Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo and so much Chanel. You name it, the bag man had it. I’d never seen so many bags. There were classic designs, outlandish eyesores, print bags etc. I was only thirteen at the time so the idea of owning a ‘”designer bag” was really exciting. We spent forever in that shop! We bought two huge bin bags full of bags. I remember carrying them down the street back to our hotel with this overwhelming feeling of excessiveness.
The funny thing was I’d never really used a bag. I had a Mulan coin purse which I normally shoved in my jacket pocket. It had no money in it and I had nothing important to carry around so I never needed a bag. My main money vessel is still a coin purse my best friend got me a decade ago. I find all these cards and compartments suffocating.
When I got back home I rarely used the bags. The few occasions I ventured out with a bag, I could feel myself hiding the fact it was “designer”. Pointless right? I didn’t want anyone to ask if it was real. If they did I would say it’s fake. The bag made me feel like a phoney, like I was walking around with a dirty secret.
I’m not sure why I felt this way. A bag is a bag at the end of the day. If a 1,600 rupee bag (roughly £20) cost the same as a £800-£1000 bag then wouldn’t it make sense not to pay the excessive fee? I knew the quality wasn’t the same which was part of it. Fakes need to have subtle differences. Maybe the logo is off tilt, maybe the print runs the wrong way or maybe the lining is completely different. That’s partly what made me nervous. An owner of the real deal would know at a glance my bags were fake. This made me think everyone could tell.
Another issue is ripping off the designer. It’s their creative property. The essence of them that you’ve stolen. Designer bags are an art because so much thought and care goes into them. Originally I didn’t appreciated that because I just felt like they unnecessarily overcharged for their bags. That was until my bags started to fall apart – fast. The straps fell apart, the linings came away and bits and bobs were dropping off left right and centre.
It made me appreciate the real deal, owning a fake. I can’t hold a fake without looking for the flaw and I don’t do that with anything else. I went to Turkey more recently and again these bags were everywhere. The same excitement I had in India didn’t come rushing back. You’d think given everything I’ve just said I wouldn’t get another bag but I did! Although, I just got one this time. I think I got it just because the opportunity presented itself since you can’t get fakes in the UK easily.
I think the jury is still out for me on this one. I now own one real designer bag. It was bought for me as a present and I love it. It doesn’t carry the negative feelings of guilt and awkwardness the other bags did. I don’t know if I’m converted and wouldn’t get one again. I won’t tell you which bag is the real one though. I think it’s more fun if I let you guess…