Unless you have been living under a rock, if you are a street culture enthusiast or into product and branding at all, the news of fake SUPREME stores popping around the world, Europe and China is reality now. So happens that I have been “lucky” enough to live in one of the cities that owns a fake SUPREME store, Shanghai. I pretty much have to pass the store everyday on my way to my work. As a footwear designer and years of branding experiences, I feel it’s my obligation sharing and reporting to product creation community in the world.
The fake SUPREME store is located in #839 Middle Huaihai Road. It’s one of the most well known shopping streets in the city of Shanghai. The SUPREME shop is situated between a Ray-ban store and a lingerie store, also next to a Starbucks (What a surprise!). The building is one of those historical ones that was built during 1930s by French colonists.
I have been working in product creation industry for a long time, I am no strange to fake products and brands, especially in this part of the world (China). Fake products are unavoidable fruition at the end of a product manufactory chain. On the surface, a fake product is simply another cheap knockoff, there’s no need to be fuzzy about them. The truth is way complicated and scary, certainly in the case of SUPREME.
There are below few categories of being a fake.
Direct brand manufactory fakes: obtaining original patterns/toolings/molds of a product, and produce products beyond brand order quantity and sell for profit. These kind of fakes are very hard to tell the difference. The only way to tell the differences is to compare to the originals since the differences varies from product to product.
Knockoff of an original: this is basically the copy of an original. Usually an original item is separated into piece by piece and to be copied. This is commonly used for limited items and extremely popular fashion, trendy items.
The lookalikes: there are obvious differences compare to the originals, such as shoe last shape, general silhouettes, branding, etc. This type of fakes are at the very low end of being fakes. I call them the creative fakes.
The above three are all pure product based. Meaning they are being operated by individuals and there’s no direct branding or organization associated with the products. Here’s where things can go totally wrong. Things have been going wrong for many years and will continue to do so. What if a fully trademarked or registered company or brand starts to make counterfeit fake products? It’s the branding fakes. And there are many tiers in this type of fakes.
Tier 3: a brand coping another brands iconic style. I have certainly had my share of professional experience that my manager ask me to copy the exact style of another brand style and change the logo brand.
Tier 2: Soundalike fakes: companies register brand with exact sounding and logo similarity of the original ones. Qiaodan China (the exact Chinese pronunciation of Jordan), Yeezy, New Bar Lun (the exact Chinese pronunciation of New Balance), etc.
Tier 1: trademark fakes: companies taking advantages of geography differences on Intellectual property laws. This is the pinnacle of counterfeit world. SUPREME Europe and china is such a case.
In this business driven world of ours, being faked is being considered as a success by many. However, once people start to understand the time, energy, passion, labor went into every beloved products. The perspective of looking at a fake is no less than stealing a real one.
Please leave your commons below to share your thoughts, I would love to hear what the community is thinking regarding being a fake or not.