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The Downside of Dupe Culture

Over the past year, dupe culture has taken the commerce sector by storm, exposing how the Gen-Z generation will go to any lengths to find something cheaper or the knock-off version of something expensive to save money. Dupes are not always the same quality as the genuine article, but they may look identical enough to throw off anyone unsuspecting. This practice is by no means wrong in every way. Besides its money-saving qualities, dupe culture has also influenced the course of staying on trend, making it easier to keep up with what’s relevant in beauty and fashion without sacrificing hundreds of dollars on luxury items. However, beyond the price tag of the products themselves, dupe culture may come with a price of its own that will affect quality standards over time.

So where does it all come from? Scroll through any social media page, specifically TikTok, and you will find countless hours of content focused on dupes. The fashion and beauty industry is seemingly targeted the most, with content creators highlighting designer dupes without the price tag or beauty lovers raving about one of the most popular products on the market that happens to have a cheaper twin. Entire TikTok accounts have been made just for dupe culture, keeping up with new dupes, or even seeking out specific dupe requests. In turn, consumers will sell out dupes within days of going viral on social media.

As someone who would rather not spend hundreds of dollars at a time to acquire a few luxury items, dupe culture has definitely served me as a money-saver. And as someone addicted to trying new trends in the beauty industry, I can appreciate a fantastically formulated dupe with a fantastic price tag. However, a few parts of dupe culture are harming more than helping consumers.

Dupe culture becomes more unappealing when you question quality and how items look, especially on the consumers themselves. Clothing and accessories come into question with the thought of looking cheap when you leave the house. That jewelry that turns your skin green could have been avoided by spending just a few dollars more on quality jewelry made from trusted metals that last. That dress you bought for a vacation that fell apart after one or two wears could have been replaced by a quality brand that would last you for every vacation in the future. Many consumers are looking for quick fixes for their wardrobes from brands such as Shein, not only attributing to the poor quality of their clothes but to the major ethical issue of the fast fashion industry. Most recently, Shein has latched on to the Air Jordan 13 as one of their dupes, creating a poor-quality alternative for a legendary luxury classic. Looking for the viral Dior saddle bag? DH Gate has become the place to shop for dupe lovers who would rather have the basic silhouette of a designer bag without the designer’s name.

The line between what is quality and what is not has been blurred by dupe culture. There is no shortage of confusion or disappointment when a dupe doesn’t work out, and people take to the internet to warn their fellow shoppers. This could be seen in TikTok’s widely participated “de-influencing” trend. But some remain captivated by influencers and their influence, listening to just about anything they say and buying just about anything they tell their large army of followers to buy. Quality control has become more of a luxury itself. Figuring out who to believe, what to think, what’s good and what isn’t may require a little more digging than just watching a 60-second video.


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