All Articles Tagged "accessories"
When Chanel Reads “Channel” And Louis Is “Lewis”: Is It Morally Wrong To Own A Fake Designer Handbag?
Is it morally wrong to own a fake Louis Vuitton handbag?
Better question: Is Charing Ball being trivial again? Perhaps.
But I have become more aware of how morality is really subjective and has less to do with religious indoctrination. Generally speaking, there are caveats to many things we find immorally wrong that many of us will observe – even if they are justified or not. Like murder. Most religions frown upon murder and generally speaking, the general public is not too keen on the idea of it either. Yet, in some instances we might be willing to excuse murder if it was done during self-defense, or as a result of an accident, or if classified as collateral damage. I’ve seen the same sort of reasoning when we justify some of the more inane moral questions in our lives, including our support of the black market trade.
I was also inspired by this video I was came across yesterday of this web series called Africa In The City, which featured a news report entitled the African Knock Off Hustle. In the nearly 12 minute long report, the host takes to the streets of Canal Street in Manhattan in search of fake Chanel handbags. Along the way she interviews pedestrians about their feelings on the counterfeit handbag trade and even speaks to some of the illegal bag traders themselves, who have made a serious business off of selling purses. In one of the scenes, the host is given a catalog – complete with glossy pictures and order numbers – of the selection of bags available, and in another scene, one bootlegger describes the hierarchy of counterfeits, with higher quality knock-offs running in excess of more than $400. What was most interesting was the man-on the street interviews, which ranged from zero tolerance for knock-offs (one guy said, “There is no reason to buy a fake bag. Just buy the real one.”) to expressions that buying a knock-off was paramount to political expression. Towards the end of the report, a college-aged white guy says, “I would rather support a person making an honest living than corporations trying to rob you.”
Generally speaking, most people, who support the trade probably don’t see anything wrong with it – or at the very least they feel it is harmless. I have a friend, who wished to stay anonymous in this post, who said that much like the college-aged white guy, counterfeit products do not hurt anyone, “because all it is doing is providing a market for people like me who couldn’t afford to purchase this stuff, as well as the vendors, who probably would not be invited to be legitimate vendors of this product.” And there is some science which backs up the belief that generally speaking, people who support the counterfeit industry are less likely to purchase the real deal. Moreover, according to this article from CNN, a recent report puts the value of counterfeits around $250 billion dollars and is far larger than almost all of the underground economies, including the illegal weapons and human trafficking trades. By 2015, experts suggest that the value of counterfeit goods will exceed $1.7 trillion dollars globally and will gain traction over such industries as pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, chemicals, commercial entertainment, and of course, fashion and apparel, which remains the lion share of the entire counterfeit market.
In spite of how lucrative knock-offs are for those selling them, the black market trade of selling handbags still carries severe legal implications, including possible arrest, huge fines, and even prison time. Likewise, there are economic implications too. In short, counterfeiting is theft. It is theft of the intellectual property, which affects the companies who spend lots of time and money to design, manufacture, trademark and market their designer handbags. And it is theft of countless dollars to local people through legal taxation, which would have been incurred through the sale of product through legal markets. Not to mention that counterfeit markets have been shown to support terrorism; are not always regulated to high standards; and can be produced in countries, where labor laws are lax, and human rights abuse happens all the time. Therefore, purchasing a knock-off is not exactly without its victims, much less its moral implications. Yet, some folks could probably make a pretty decent case for how the legal and trademarked industry, including apparel and fashion, partakes in some of the same exploitative practices, so why would the counterfeit trade be considered any less immoral, if not illegal?
“I see a moral issue in the sense of needing to project something that is really not the case. And needing to impress to the point of providing a false sense of security in a “name” that is valid but the quality (knock off) being invalid,” says Pastor Felix Morgan Jr., pastor of Temple of Empowerment Church in Philadelphia, who I asked about the moral implications of bootlegging.
Morgan was tied up in the duties of his ministries, so he didn’t have time to expound on his point or give the proper biblical annotations I would have loved to hear. However, I think his input speaks volumes: For manufacturers, what might constitute the biggest threat to their product is brand depreciation, which can occur when anyone can be associated with a fancy logo. However, for the consumers, who opted to spend lavishly on designer labels, they do not do it necessarily for the quality or even the design, rather, they do it for the emotional feeling, which comes from exclusivity. And having any logo on the body of any ole’ layperson doesn’t quite showcase one’s ability to be financially wealthier (or even the same) than others.
For example, my brother once told me about how in high school, a bunch of friends told him about a store down in North Philly where he could get a pair of brand new Jordans for $60 – except when my brother went to the store and inspected the sneakers, he noticed that “Jordan” was spelled wrong. “There was a ‘u’ in Jordans like Jorduns. Somebody spelled it phonetically,” he said. My brother also told me that after his discovery, he went back to his friends and told them that the shoes were fake. Surprisingly, not only did they already know, they still chose to pass them off as genuine anyway. “Nowadays, $60 is not going to buy you a lot of sneaker – not the kind that will keep you from getting clowned because your gear is corny. Plus, it’s not like anybody was going to get down on their knees and inspect them.”
In general, having luxury items is not inherently immoral, even as some of the luxury items are admittedly decadent. However, there is something wrong with folks buying into luxury and luxury-looking stuff for the appearance of wealth, especially if that appearance is not always accurate. I think that is where morality comes into play; when we put more value and stock into the accessories we add on – whether it be the real thing or not – instead of our character and who we truly are as a person.
So what are your thoughts? Is it morally acceptable to rock the fake Gucci?
Photo courtesy of Village Voice.
From research to planning to investment to marketing, starting your own business is intense and, at times, overwhelming; but once you start taking steps toward your goal, opportunities begin to show up. That’s been Samantha Smikle’s experience with her accessory line TNEMNRODA (“adornment” spelled backwards).
She started small and unintentionally in ’08, initially making chain-embellished eyewear and other pieces she would wear to her magazine internships. She went on to work for jewelry designers she could learn from, and leveraged relationships with editors she interned for to land press. But perhaps most importantly, Smikle was prepared to seize big breaks when they presented themselves.
Explaining how her spectacles ended up getting Instagrammed by Beyoncé (photo after the jump), she says her policy of always carrying her sunglasses on her paid off. Smikle was on her way to the gym in Harlem when she spotted the star’s stylist Ty Hunter.
“[I] gushed embarrassingly to him about [his work], star struck, and showed him my pieces,” she admits. “I just expected Ty to wear them. But lo and behold, Beyoncé herself shows up on Insta in them.”
Looking back on the four years since she first started making chain glasses, Smikle acknowledges those unplanned moments as milestones for her up-and-coming brand, even as she holds out hope for an impromptu Rihanna sighting, or access to Michelle Obama herself. If and when that happens, better believe Smikle will be prepared.
Madame Noire: How did you start TNEMNRODA?
Samantha Smikle: It really started when I took an internship after graduating from Boston University with [designer] Elise Overland… I hated it 1. Because I was interning after graduating! And 2. Because it was in the summer and [I had] to carry these huge, heavy rolls of fabric and leather from whichever vendor back to the showroom. A million times worse than a stylist assistant carrying garment bags! But I stayed with it for the whole summer and to my advantage: Elise sent me to a vendor to get metal pieces for one of the garments that would be in her upcoming show for Fashion Week. That was probably the errand that changed my life! Tons of chain and findings and such were there. I went back months after leaving the internship and my company slowly started from there.
Just like the inspirations behind Jade Gedeon’s handmade We Dream in Colour jewelry line, getting the business in gear came together on a whim. What started out as school project quickly blossomed into an accessories operation that at times became too much to handle. Graduating from Pratt Institute in 2004, Gedeon’s studies in industrial design turned out to be more beneficial than expected.
“I made some horrible stuff,” Gedeon said searching to remember the first piece of jewelry she ever created. “I used a lot of recycled weird material and Shrinky Dink plastic kits; they were these huge sheets that you could put in the oven and they would shrink down three-fourths the size. I did lots of illustrations on plastic. [My first pieces of jewelry] were almost like wearing drawings.”
After finding her niche in natural, rustic styles, Gedeon soon began making jewelry — earrings, bracelets and necklaces for herself then perfecting pieces for friends and family. Teaming up with her roommate who designed jewelry using clay and glass, Gedeon officially launched a joint website in 2002.
“She was really the driving factor in turning it into a business. She said, ‘Let’s put up a website and try to push [our lines] a little bit more,’” said Gedeon.
“It’s grown in a very organic way. Until recently I had never looked for press or stories. Things have just come to me in a manageable form and I took it from there,” she continues.
Sadly the dog days of summer are winding down, but the good news is there is already lots of fall fashion to drool over. And since that means tons of transitional pieces, you don’t need to worry about tossing your warm weather wardrobe out the window right away. Instead use layers to transition your wardrobe from summer savvy to autumnally amazing.
As you continue to stack bracelets and bangles for a harmonious arm party (that is sure to make a lot of noise), don’t forget to invite a dashing wristwatch to the chic soiree. With so many fabulous options, from dainty timepieces, to the ever so popular menswear inspired big faces—function and style can coexist for a fashionable way to further enhance ones personal style. Whether you gravitate towards a supple leather armband, an intricate stainless steel piece, or a flashy rose gold finish, keep your style on time with a jazzy timepiece.
Although a classic option, this silver stone watch has the perfect amount of bling for everyday wear. The intricate skeleton face allows you to see the fun inner workings of your chic timepiece. Plus, the stones around the face help the piece look a bit more fashionable and funky.
For days when you want to skip out on lugging everything but the kitchen sink and your carrying needs are light and minimal—credit card, ID, keys, a tube of lipstick and a cell phone—a bag worthy of clutching is all you need. Whether you’re heading out for the night to a swanky gala, simply just hanging out with friends or going to work, there’s bound to be a clutch perfect for the occasion. So rather than clutch your pearls at outrageous prices, hold tight and arm yourself with one of these fabulous $100 and under clutch finds.
If you haven’t journeyed to the beach yet, now’s the time—the sun is hot, the water is warm and before you know it, we’ll be bundling up for winter all over again. It’s time to gather up your friends, grab a good book, throw on your sexiest swimsuit and hit the beach. So as you decide which swimsuit you’ll be wearing, don’t forget to pack a few chic and simple must-have accessories.
Having to wear glasses at one point in time meant being teased and called “four eyes”. Now times have changed and not being blessed with perfect 20/20 vision simply means you get to correct your imperfect sight with a pair of spectacular specs. Eyewear has not only taken on new and exciting shapes, but color has given retro styles the contemporary feel that many eyeglass wearers look for. These days, even the cool kids want to look like nerds. So whether you opt for a retro old Hollywood look like James Dean or bright and bold like fashion icon Iris Apfel, give your contacts a break and frame your style with a stylish pair of eyeglasses.
While you’re uncovering all the hottest summer trends this year, don’t forget all the must-have accessories that you will need to complete your summer looks. While you’re color-blocking like crazy, be sure to include a bright belt or shoe to make your outfit pop even more. If you’re all about the sporty-chic trend, don’t forget to grab that super sleek cross body bag. And while you’re getting wild with a tribal look, don’t be afraid to take it up a notch with a straw fedora hat. So as you prepare to head out on the town this season, don’t forget to seal the deal with these summer must-have accessories.
“I know there are women who don’t necessarily want to wear the Basketball Wives earrings, because they’ve seen them on TV and on everybody else. Even though they’re fabulous, some people just want to make their own statement,” said Crystal Whalum, founder of online jewelry and accessory boutique STONEnyc.
With a mission that seeks to empower women to embrace a style that is uniquely theirs, Whalum spends her time scouting jewelry from independent designers that are above all, different. Showcasing jewelry and accessories of limited availability; STONEnyc’s specialty is statement pieces.
“I began to meet different designers and I’d see people on the street that would ask, ‘Where did you get that fabulous piece?’ A lot of the time I would go to indie markets and find designers,” said Whalum.
“That’s where I got the idea of featuring independent designers. Through research and taking my time everything came together. It took me a little over a year to get things together to launch.”
The Look of a Launch
Acting on a push, given by her husband, Whalum launched in 2010. Prior to STONEnyc she worked as a PR and marketing professional creating campaigns for the Food Network. The idea of opening a boutique, Whalum says, was something that was always in the back of her mind.