RepLadies: Rich Women, Fake Bags: RepLadies, the Internet Forum Channeling the Love for Cheap ‘Chanel’ | Society

A bag.
A bag.

They are mainly American women and half of them visit the forum daily. Most of them are white (50%) followed by Asians (36%). They are usually over the age of 35 and have annual incomes between $100,000 and $200,000. Many of them have authentic handbags, but just as much love imitations and are not ashamed of them. They do indeed feel a certain pride, knowing that they have bought at a bargain price a counterfeit product that is hardly distinguishable from an original that costs several thousand dollars. Their favorite brands are Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.

According to a survey by the administrator, these are the women of RepLadies, a Reddit subforum with more than 200,000 female users that was founded in 2016. Today, RepLadies is the largest Internet forum for counterfeit enthusiasts. Women compare good counterfeits with genuine products, rate their recent purchases, post links to interesting products they found while browsing, give each other tips to avoid falling for scams; they even help each other communicate with sellers in other languages.

Reviews are the most specific subgenre within this forum, as they have been given their own language and are written according to strict publishing standards: they contain information about the seller (name, phone number or contact method and location), available payment method and order timeline (from when a of buyers contact the seller until she receives her purchase). The review also includes photos of the imitation bag and the original. Finally, it gives a brief analysis of the quality of the bag, the accuracy of the imitation and the reviewer’s satisfaction with their purchase. RepLadies is so popular that some sellers discount them: “I mentioned RepLadies and got a 10% discount,” said one user in a review of a Chanel knockoff. RepLadies also has its own glossary and acronym guide, where AE stands for AliExpress, ISO stands for In Search Of or MIF stands for Made In France and, of course, Rep stands for Replica.

The women of RepLadies also use the forum to share anecdotes and confessions. “What do you always (and never) buy auth [authentic]† a user asked in a thread, explaining that they prefer authentic Celine bags, “because I love the quality of the leather” [luxurious] compared to [replicas] and I like to treat myself every now and then with something extra nice.”

The cheapest Celine bag costs about €2,000 ($2,100), while the most expensive, a crocodile leather bag with gold chain, costs €18,000 ($18,900).

“But”, the user continues, “I think I will buy more [replica] shoes in the future as I am very impressed with the shoes I recently bought.”

“I wear my shoes quickly, so I don’t care about spending too much money on” [authentic ones]†

Many users agree on the topic of shoes, with one saying, “I can’t keep my shoes in pristine condition. I don’t plan on spending $700 on shoes.”

Amanda Derhy wears a brown glossy monogram print pattern in a Louis Vuitton coated canvas shoulder bag.
Amanda Derhy wears a brown glossy monogram print pattern in a Louis Vuitton coated canvas shoulder bag. Edward Berthelot (Getty Images)

In a space known as RL Confessional, women share the experiences that led them to RepLadies, including their demographic details, following the forum’s meticulous rules.

A 25-year-old tech from New York with an annual salary of $135,000 says handbags are like personal achievements to her: “I recognize that handbags are symbols of status and wealth, and none of these are healthy goals to pursue. But I would like to see my bags as more than that: they represent a deeply personal journey that marks events in my own life.”

This user says she bought an authentic Yves Saint Laurent wallet to celebrate a recent pay raise, and has a collection of both authentic and fake handbags.

A 44-year-old from Illinois who earns $70,000 a year says fake handbags are more nourishing to her than eating out: fake purses, on which she’s spent more than $15,000, “fill me up more.”

An engineer in her mid-30s from New York who makes $200,000 a year says she’s never really been committed to buying authentic products. “I think my first replicas were pirated versions of Digimon,” she writes, saying she owns more than 47 handbags and doesn’t know if they care if they’re real or fake.

It’s not that the women of RepLadies can’t afford authentic handbags. They just love their counterfeits and most consider the price of an original to be excessive.

US media outlet the cut recently chatted with some members of the forum asking their reasons for buying counterfeit handbags. The answers can be categorized as excitement (“it’s about the atavistic thrill of the hunt – the feeling of getting a bargain” for a former real estate agent who retired in his thirties); thrift (“my friends who spend a lot on authenticity have either never worked a day in their lives or married rich men,” explains one woman – “but if you work hard for your money, you don’t want to spend it to give to stupid things…”); and usability (“Imagine spending all our money on authentic handbags,” says a stay-at-home mom. “You’d never grow your wealth that way, right?”).

Rich and privileged, the women of RepLadies are a sociological phenomenon: they circumvent the strict rules of their own social class and do so with a certain pride; provide each other with a secure network for confessions, candid observations and mutual support.

Sure: if we all lie for appearances, RepLadies makes it clear that not everyone does it for the same reasons.

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