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Who are the Rep-Ladies, the rich women of New York on the hunt for fake Birkins

When buying a fake bag becomes an obsession

Who are the Rep-Ladies, the rich women of New York on the hunt for fake Birkins  When buying a fake bag becomes an obsession

It is no mistery that the cost of a luxury product is the main reason for detachment on the part of the average consumer, and that, at the same time, it constitutes its appeal in the eyes of those who cannot afford it. On the other hand, exclusion is the concept on which the entire functioning of fashion is based. Balancing self-determination and the desire  for acceptance, some have decided that wearing designer clothes to in order for their  clothing to be appreciated (and personally appreciate) is not necessary and there are those  who, like a group of wealthy New York Millennials on Reddit, couldn't resist the temptation to buy a counterfeit garment or accessory. They are called Rep-Ladies and their case tells us that things have changed to such an extent that, discovering the dynamics that bind them, one gets the impression that fake bags on the Upper East Side are more desired than real  ones.  

Protagonists of a recent interview published on The Cut, the Rep-Ladies take their name from a sub-Reddit dedicated to counterfeit luxury goods, that is a space on the online discussion social in which you can buy designer shoes, but also jewelry, suitcases and  especially handbags, from the Chanel classics to Birkin and Kelly by Hermès. And that's not all: in addition to creating «privileged connections» between sellers and consumers of replicas, which are sold at 10% of the price of the original, the sub-Reddit provides all the  information needed to navigate the black market, giving advice on how to bargain or the  dangers to keep away from. Because if there is one thing that clearly emerges from the investigation of the US magazine, it is that the know-how of the system is the fundamental requirement to evaluate a counterfeit bag's qualities and compare the corresponding authentic one.  

But if any member of Manhattan's élite could easily afford to buy all the original Birkins and still travel on private jets, what makes Rep-Ladies risk everything to buy a counterfeit luxury product on the black market? «It's about the thrill of the hunt, the feeling of getting a  bargain», said one of them, «I don't just want one thing, I want to feel like I got it by getting  a bargain», recounted another. Scouting, selecting, evaluating, and conquering a fake: these are the skills with which wealthy New York women – and we're betting on men as well, although they aren't mentioned in the article that opened the discussion, prove their status. No longer with their money, but through their wit. The sub-Reddit was founded in 2016 and it counts about 200 members, but it seems that in recent months it has moved to private socials, with fewer controls and therefore the chance to interface with the exclusive aspects of the business, even going so far as to make custom orders. One thing leads to another, and according to Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, the Hamptons  has created a real community that everyone wants to be a part of, including celebrities.  When they do, they all know each other. For them, status is no longer just about quantifying  their money in clothing, it's about proving that they're not one of the rich consumers who are  being ripped off by the big brands – who, according to the Rep-Ladies, are constantly raising  prices and often selling products that are even better than the fakes. 

Regarding the origin of the reproductions of the luxury items, Rep-Ladies know that they are  getting in touch with Chinese sellers under pseudonyms who run industries somewhere in  the country. Even the general conditions of the sub-Reddit call things by their name and  warn users without mincing words: «we are dealing with a black market». Some consumers believe that the big brands are behind all this and are trying to make money in any way they can, others think that the replicas are bags or other goods that have not passed company inspections and are sold under the counter by employees, and still others claim that the  sellers of fakes operate completely independently. To feel legitimized, many of them turn to  someone to mediate. But while the presence of an intermediary may alleviate the worry you  feel when you send your money off to who knows where and without protection, the truth is  that determining exactly where the replicas come from, it still difficult.  

If one wanted to locate a dealer, sanction him or even in order to know the conditions in which the fakes are produced, it would not be easy. What is certain is that the industrial model on which the functioning of the chinese factories is based on, tends to be based on  the exploitation of the labor both on the economic and human side, as many readers of The Cut remind in the comments. Assuming that some customers manage to inform themselves  and establish direct communication with workers and sellers, counterfeiting is still illegal, in  the US as well as in Europe. Whether you can't afford a Birkin by Hermès or, like the Rep Ladies, just want to experience the thrill of the bargain, is buying counterfeit products right when we can't tell with absolute certainity that workers are being paid enough when it is highly unlikely that their rights are being respected?