On Canal Street, The Real Real Makes a Bold, “Superfake” Statement

On New York City’s most notorious corridor for knockoff designer handbags, The Real Real has stocked a new storefront with 35 “superfake” handbags to draw attention to the industry’s counterfeiting crisis.

Credit (all images): Olympia Shannon

At The Real Real’s latest opening, none of the merch is shoppable. You’d be hard-pressed to even find a time of day when the jewel-box is open: Its posted hours read closed, every day of the week. Instead, its 35 exquisitely merchandised handbags—all of them counterfeits and illuminated by a Serge Mouille–lookalike ceiling fixture—stare down New York’s most notorious block for knockoff designer goods. The storefront itself is a bit deceiving in that it isn’t even a storefront at all. Rather, it’s an installation the luxury goods reseller crafted with creative agency Mythology to draw much-needed attention to counterfeiting in the fashion industry.

Among the 35 handbags on display, there are knockoff Birkins, Kellys, a Loewe Seagrass tote, a Prada Galleria shoulder bag, and a Telfar Shopping Bag, ringing as a who’s who of the market’s most coveted handbags. According to the retailer, which curated the assortment from a selection of fakes sent in by would-be consignors, the bags on view are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing. These so-called “superfakes” appeal to customers across income levels, and the company hopes to use the installation to raise awareness about the ripple effects of counterfeiting. Customers can turn in their own fake designer bags for a chance to win the real thing—from The Real Real, of course.

“The point is to spark conversation around, ‘Why does it matter?’” Kristen Naiman, The Real Real’s chief creative officer, told the New York Times. “There has been so much conversation around fast fashion and how detrimental it is to the world… Fakes are even worse.” To Naiman’s point, the fashion industry has yet to spearhead an authoritative, industry-specific anti-counterfeiting agency with the power behind it that design’s Be Original Americas has, which has worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to seize $15.1 million worth of knockoffs.

All Stories