Last weekend, The Wall Street Journal ran an article by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan titled Copy Protection for Fall Fashion. Tan began the piece by comparing a Carolina Herrera Italian wool jacket at Saks for $2,190 with a similar jacket at H&M for only $39.90. She argued that although inexpensive designer knockoffs have always been available via stores like Target, H&M, and Zara, it’s more difficult to find good knockoffs this fall. Why? Because "unlike the casual jersey dresses and drapey styles of recent years, this season’s more formal, couture-inspired looks, with their unusual shapes, extensive stitching and luxurious fabrics, are harder for the cheap-chic crowd to copy" (W1). Tan states that the differences between high-end designer duds and low-end imitations are more pronounced this year than they have been in some time.
Obviously, some designers are thrilled. The author explained that, "typically, the most difficult parts of an item of clothing to sew – and thus, to replicate – are sleeves, and pieces with curved shapes, collars, and detailing" (W4). Tan critiqued four "cheap chic" pieces and, I’m sorry to say, only one scored well (the Alice Temperley jacket at Target for $44.99). The other three were very sub-par. The Zara jacket ($34.99) showed uneven bottom flaps when the coat was buttoned. H&M’s dress ($59.99) had an asymmetrical collar and "lantern" sleeves that were limp instead of poufy. And Kohl’s Simply Vera Vera Wang skirt ($98) revealed raggedy hem stitching.
So, what’s a fashion-conscience, budget-conscience shopper to do? I’d recommend heading to Target.com and picking up the Alice Temperley Melton Wool Cropped Jacket in Ivory. Buy anything else mentioned in the article, and you’re likely to be cited by the couture fashion police.