Designer brands like Balenciaga, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton have many high quality products to choose from such as clothes, accessories, and shoes. However, a drawback from these brands is their high prices, which not everyone can afford.
There has been an alternative option on the rise, referred to as replica clothing. The purpose of replica clothing is to replicate “authentic” clothing for a cheaper, more affordable price. In this context, replica clothing means designer/branded clothing that hasn’t been purchased from the designer brand themselves but rather an outside manufacturer.
Replica clothing has existed for many years, although they weren’t always the best compared to products now. For example, for many years, replica sneakers looked almost nothing like the real pairs. They often had colorways that have never been released by the original brand. Replicas weren’t that popular socially in the early 2010s, due to the dissimilarity of them in which you’d most likely be made fun of.
During quarantine and into 2021 there was a raise in popularity in replica clothing. Replicas were shared on social media and gained traction over time since then. TikTok was most significant in raising popularity to reps, with the platform being an easy place for people to promote different sites to buy from. However, the authenticity of these sites were questionable, leading people to fear getting scammed.
(Trend data of people searching up “what are reps in shoes”)
Over the years they’ve improved and perfected their products to look as close as possible to the originals. Here is an example of an authentic pair of the Nike Panda dunks (you know, the shoe everyone has) next to a pair of replicas that cost $30. An authentic pair and a replica pair are pictured together below.
(top pair is real)
Typically, replicas are bought from Chinese online shopping sites, mainly Taobao and Weidian. The problem with these sites is that you cannot buy directly from them if you live outside of China. The way this is resolved is with something called an agent. Agents buy the product for you, ship it to their warehouse, then ship it out to your home country. There are a couple of options to choose from when choosing agents, personally I have used the agent Pandabuy, as it’s user friendly and reliable.
The convenience of agents is that from their warehouse they send you quality control photos of the item you purchased. For example, when you buy a tee they will send you photos of the front, back, and the shirt folded. Shoes typically have more photos than non-accessory items, they take photos of each side of the shoe, as well as the box and label. This is a good pro when buying replicas because you can be sure that the item is well made, good quality, and isn’t poorly produced.
Here are example quality control photos I have received:
Oliver Troconis, sophomore at Blake, who buys replicas, was interviewed about their interests and opinions on reps.
Q: To start off, how and when did you get into reps?
A: I got into them around December last year, I found about reps through my friends, I also found out that they were cheap alternatives to my favorite shoes, and it was a better choice since my family doesn’t have money to be spending high prices on shoes.
Q: How much do you think you’ve spent on reps?
A: I’ve spent like $400.
Q: What are some things you’ve bought?
A: I’ve bought some shorts, shoes, jewlery, pants and some shirts.
Photos of things I’ve bought that have arrived:
Q: Has anyone called you out on them being reps? Especially the shoes?
A: No not really, as long as you rock them with confidence the odds of you getting called out are very low, especially when shoes are just shoes.
Q: Compliments more?
A: Oh yeah, I’ve gotten tons of compliments even when people know my clothes aren’t authentic, I just get compliments for my outfits.
Q: Real stuff. In your opinion how is the quality from the things you’ve bought?
A: For the shoes the quality is basically like any other shoes, it honestly feels authentic compared to real pairs I have. For my clothes, the quality feels even better than some other designer brands in my opinion, and it’s literally so much cheaper.
Q: Final question, will you continue buying reps?
A: Of course, until I have enough money to consider buying real pieces.