Is That Handbag Real or Fake? Fashion Fans Confused by Designer Knock-Offs

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MIT research has revealed that most people cannot spot whether a handbag is a genuine designer purse or a convincing fake. Instead they rely on the confidence and other social signals of the person carrying the purse.

Researcher Renee Richardson Gosline showed fashion fans two dozen photos of designer handbags. Some were genuine, while the others were counterfeit. Half the photos showed the bags sitting alone on a shelf, while the others showed the bag being carried in public.

Those surveyed were twice as confident in their ability to pick the fakes when they could see them carried compared to when the items were shown alone. With that added confidence, those surveyed said they were willing to pay twice as much for the goods.

When there is no contextual information, it’s terrible for the brand. People’s confidence in their ability to discern the real from the fake plummets, as does their willingness to pay,” Ms Gosline explained.

Basically these consumers look at the person, the setting, and determine the authenticity by seeing if the person’s image corresponds with the image they have of the brand.”

The study also revealed that almost half of those who buy a fake luxury item will end up purchasing the authentic designer accessory within two years. That’s surprising considering that most of us can’t confidently tell the difference between the two!