There are many words for a copy. Replica bags and accessories are called many things, fakes, super fakes, knock offs, duplicates, dupes, forgery, appropriations, clones, remix among others.
But how do you call the bag you bought in CHANEL‘s flagship store at the Rue de Cambon or in Soho’s Spring Street? Real? Original? Authentic? Everything is real if it is tangible. Original? There is only one original bag, the prototype, or master copy most likely in the vaults of CHANEL’s headquarter. Everything is engineered from that single design, and the most popular bags are worn by thousands across the world.
Everything is real if it is tangible.
After many allegations and even lawsuits of selling counterfeit goods on their store, The RealReal, a site designed to sell authentic affordably, luxury goods, continues to advertise the claim “authenticity guaranteed.” But what does this really mean for your purchase?
We looked up the word in the dictionary to verify its meaning. Is the RealReal misleading? Let’s break it down.
Miriam Webster‘s definition of authentic is as follows:
- Worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact, paints an authentic picture of our society
- Conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features, an authentic reproduction of a colonial farmhouse
- Made or done the same way as an original: authentic Mexican fare
- Not false or imitation: REAL, ACTUAL, an authentic cockney accent
- True to one’s own personality, spirit or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions
- Of a church mode: ranging upward from the keynote
- Of a cadence: progressing from the dominant chord to the tonic— compare PLAGAL sense 2
- Obsolete: AUTHORITATIVE
But a replica, if we are to really follow the definition of “real,” is an authentic piece in its own right. Different, yes. But real? Definitely.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates presents the argument that everything in this world is an imitation because it is an echo or reproduction of an idea that exists beyond the realm of sensible forms. A CHANEL bag ist the imitation of an idea, in leather and other materials, while a photograph of such a bag is an imitation of an imitation.
By definition, an identical copy has authenticity, which makes an original quality replica authentic by definition.
Authentic has an implication of being not false or of any imitation, but the word also refers to conforming to an original to reproduce essential features. So by definition, an identical copy has authenticity, which makes an original quality replica authentic by definition. As for the RealReal, their motto is authenticity, which for them implies selling only luxury goods and no replicas. But a replica, if we are to really follow the definition of “real,” is an authentic piece in its own right. Different, yes. But real? Definitely.