The other night, I was sitting on a very crowded train with a girl standing next to me with her “Louis Vuitton” tote basically shoved in my face (ahh the joys of public transportation). Normally I wouldn’t oogle a designer handbag, but in this instance, I had no choice.
The dark brown and light brown checks passed my test, and the brand name was actually spelled right. Perhaps this bag could be real. But when I took a closer look (again, I had no choice) the lining, the weird “leather” dangly thing hanging off the back, the outer rim … the word “FAKE” started flashing in my brain with bright lights around it.
How do I know all of this? Where did I get these silly skills of being able to decipher if a designer bag is fake or not, especially a Louis? Well … I went to the school of Canal Street in New York City. Literally. During the early 2000’s and the hay day of Sex and the City … you were nothing if you didn’t have a designer bag. And it didn’t matter if you were 13 or 35.
I believe I was 15-ish when I had my first experience on Canal Street in NYC. Back in the early 2000’s, before the cops ruined all the fun, you could walk into any kiosk on Canal and find any replica handbag from Dior to Prada and beyond. It was a little crazy how these bags looked exactly like the bazillion dollar ones that lived in stores like Bloomies. And while the 1% were buying them up in department stores, my mom and I were scooping up all of our favorite designers for under $20.
Looking back, the things we did to score these handbags were a little insane. Like I said, there was a small window of time when you could just go up to any kiosk on Canal Street and pull an amazing fake right off the wall and purchase it. But once the authorities got wind of this, it got a little more … hmmm dicey, to say the least.
What would you say if a random man who barely spoke English said to you, “Louis Vuitton? Prada? $20 … follow me.” You wouldn’t follow him, right? Because it’s shady and weird, and hello! Stranger danger.
Well … if you were my mom and I, you would, indeed, follow him. Down the street, around the corner, into another shady kiosk and through a wall that turned into a door that led to a shady back room where all the fakes lived. What? Looking back, I’m really psyched we are alive and not still trapped in that back room. Hey … it could have happened.
:::Mumbles::: years later, the “fake handbag” has kind of lost its luster. Sure, being able to strut around holding a handbag that Beyonce carries is awesome. But like my good friend once said, “ain’t nobody gonna believe a girl driving a hoopdee is wearing Chanel.” And nothing has ever resonated more with me.
Fake handbags just make me sad now. The lining, the bootleg stitching … and God knows who made them and who is selling them and the conditions they are in to do so. Apparently the whole fake handbag market is bad news and quite frankly, I want nothing to do with it anymore.
While I would sell my own mother on the black market for a Chanel bag (sorry Ma), I now know it is more important to work hard for one … instead of following a stranger through a wall and scoring one for $20 (although at least really funny stories came from it).
At this stage in my life, I am quite confident when I say I have NO business owning a Chanel bag. I feel like that is just something you will just know when you’re ready to own one. Like, “OMG I have all this money left over after all my bills are paid … WHAT DO I DO?!” Hello, Chanel. Come to Mama.
And of course, I still have kept a few of my fakes for nostalgic purposes. I think I still have a Prada pencil bag that was my LIFE in high school (again, what is a 15-year-old girl who has a single parent doing with a Prada bag?) and a awful fake Burberry bag. Sigh … good times.
So while yes, designer handbags are the untouchable candy we so desperately want to indulge in, but sometimes cannot, go visit them in Nordstrom and Bloomies, stroke them, have eye sex with them all you want … and set goals for yourself to acquire one the legit way. But until then there are SO many cool and unique handbags that may not have a designer label, but will make fellow ladies be all, “OMG where did you get that bag, bitch?!” (I mean … that’s how ladies talk, right?)
Let fakes live in the early 2000’s with low-rise jeans and satin tanks and Paris Hilton. Right? You know I’m right.