Who Murdered Coco Chanel?

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Gauteng, SOUTH AFRICA – The thought has been on my mind for some time: where does the sudden surge in luxury brand turned street wear knockoff attire come from and what are the brand identity repercussions of such a phenomena (if indeed there are any)?

Earlier this year the internet was in a state when the Bryan Boys of the world jammed the interweb with instargram posts of themselves wearing ‘Comme Des FUCKDOWN’ beanies and knockoff Chanel t-shirts and knockoff Chanel accessories on knockoff knockoff Chanel. Essentially, the logo that came to be recognised as the emblem of feminist and chic attire was suddenly the new ‘thing’ to copy and paste in street wear. Surprisingly, the head designers of the Parisian fashion house failed to seize this opportunity as they declined to make use of this new found niche in which their clothes could be sold. Instead, they chose to look the other way, leaving us to speculate as to weather they appreciate their logos new found use or feel that the prestige of their brand identity is being sullied by the craze.  Chanel being the #82nd most powerful brand in the world this year – according to Forbes – the use of their logo amongst street wear loving youths seems to have had little affect on the brand’s sales. The privately held company, owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer (grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer who was an early business partner of Coco Chanel) makes an estimated yearly revenue of $4.2 billion dollars. An increase from what it was 5 years ago (between $2.3 billion and $3 billion).

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Another luxury fashion house which has become victim to street wear’s ‘copy-paste’ trend is Yves Saint Laurent, the Parisian go-to store for all things trendy. Collette created knock off shirts with the words “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” written across them earlier this year. The shirts resulted in YSL’s current Creative Director, Hedi Slimane, decision to pull the entire Saint Laurent line from Colette in April this year. In clear contrast to Chanel, YSL doesn’t take lightly to the to illegitimate use of their brand.

Some of these knockoff shirts can be found in affluent retail outlets in Gauteng, such as Sandton City Mall. I wonder what Louis Vuitton would do if they were to find their logo being unlawfully used in one of these stores? After all, Louis Vuitton’s store is also found in this same mall just a few steps away.

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