Gen Z are fuelling sales of luxury counterfeits

RMIT University

Owning a counterfeit luxury item might not be a fashion faux pas anymore. An RMIT marketing expert is available to explain how Gen Z are normalising the purchase of ‘superfakes’ and the implications for high-end retailers.

Topics: luxury fashion, superfakes, Gen Z, counterfeit items, fashion influencers

Dr Marian Makkar, Senior Lecturer in Marketing

“Digital creators and influencers are using their cultural capital to shift the narrative around counterfeit items or ‘superfakes’ as desirable, smart, and trendy to their younger followers.

“With many celebrities overly present on social media flaunting their luxury possessions, this promotes a luxury obsession with their followers – especially Gen Z.

“It’s no surprise that when counterfeit luxury items made their debut on TikTok, a lot of young consumers found an affordable avenue to look like their idols.

“Technology has improved tremendously, allowing for superfakes to look and feel like the real thing while selling it for a cheaper price.

“Superfakes are so popular on social media that superfake manufacturers strategically work with influencers and online stockists (e.g., Amazon, Sugargoo, Pandabuy and Taobao) to promote these counterfeits to a Gen Z audience.

“While it may not seem dangerous at first – given that superfakes are cheaper and therefore not as financially impactful – there needs to be more awareness of the risks surrounding the purchase of counterfeit items at a young age.

“It’s a potentially slippery slope that can contribute to addictive shopping habits and cost young people in the long run.

“The popularity of superfakes also harms legitimate Australian brands and businesses by contributing to an underground, illegal, and unethical economy.

“Some ways for young consumers to experience luxury fashion while avoiding the harmful effects of the superfake culture could be through purchasing entry-level luxury lines such as Bvlgari sunglasses over handbags.

“Purchasing pre-loved luxury items is another way you can experience luxury fashion at a more affordable price tag and, at the same time, you would be contributing to sustainable practices. There are many online and physical marketplaces that resell legitimate luxury items at a reduced price.”

Dr Marian Makkar is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing. Marian’s research interests span consumer culture, luxury consumption behaviours and luxury brand management, design for value co-creation and the use of technology to enhance consumer worlds.

/Public Release.