Let's face it: not everyone has the wallet to afford designer furniture. Stark, Eames, Corbusier, Jacobsen… These names sounds like a sweet melody to my ears but every time I daydream about (i.e. surf the internet for) the "perfect" egg chair, my heart ends up broken by the price tag. Every. Time.
Well, not exactly every time. Not since I discovered the very interesting world of copies. Shhh, don't say it too loud. It's not allowed. It's bad, very bad. But is it, really? You shouldn't buy copies of films and CDs. That one is deeply encrusted into my brain. What about furniture? What does it really mean to buy a "replica"?
Is it a crime?
No. Well, legally, no. Buying furniture copies is perfectly legal. The seller on the other hand could get a fine if he does not identify the piece as a copy.
Does it hurt the designer/market?
Yes. It's the basic law of demand and supply. Designers will not get any cut from your copy. Now I believe a couple of things must be taken into account:
- An original is like art. For a designer to produce one piece that will sell, he has to make a hundred of them. That's why painting/sculpture/designer furniture is expensive. They have to be to support the many hours the artist will work to perfect his style and technique.
- On the other hand, it's a luxury market the vast majority of us cannot afford. I really don't cry for the designer when I find a copy of the last Dior collection in my local store. I say "Score!" and I buy it.
This really is a question of buying ethics, and everyone has different opinions on what is ok and what's not depending on the product, the designer, the retailer, the materials, etc. [Editor's note: we've discussed these ethics on Offbeat Bride]
How do I know it's a replica?
They will usually use the terms "inspired by," "this style" or "reproduction" in the name of the product. It's honestly quite confusing at first. Usually, if the full designer name is not in the name tag and the price seems reasonable, it's a copy.
What are you giving up when you buy a replica?
Quality and details. Originals will be made from real leather, their structure are one continuous piece of metal (there will be no soldered joints), plastics are sturdier and finishes will never fade due to sunlight exposure. Overall, originals will last longer and look much better in 10 years from now. Some people also believe buying an original is like making an investment because they do not lose value over time — that is if you take real good care of your furniture… Which is unfortunately not the case of my cats.
So why the frack would you buy a copy?
You save money. A lot of money. As an example, Eames Lounge and Ottoman original will be retailed for over $4,500 while its copy can be bought for $900 only. That's five time cheaper. Yeah, I know, hard to resist. Apart from "the look for less" there really is no other advantages to buying a replica.
So really, would you buy copies of your favourite designer furniture? Or save up for the real thing? I haven't made up my mind yet, so I'd love to hear Homies' thoughts on the subject!