A few days ago my colleague Rigel Celeste wrote an interesting story about what your handbag says about you. In the story she posited that
"carrying a knock-off bag can say that you're putting a fake front to the world." According to an intriguing story on Bloomberg
, a study done by Renee Richardson Gosline, an assistant professor of marketing at MIT's Sloan School of Management, showed that if you want to get away with wearing a fake you need to have a certain attitude. Her research revealed that people are more likely to peg a handbag as being a real designer bag if the woman carrying it is wearing expensive clothes or has an aura of wealth.
Her methodology involved showing 100 owners of luxury handbags photos of bags alone and photos of bags worn by people in social settings. The study subjects were more able to ascertain an item's authenticity and potential cost of the item when it was in context. Gosline, who also happens to be a former brand manager for LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton, found that even a nice fake won't fool many consumers if the rest of the package doesn't match up. I would suggest that a similar principle is often in effect with jewelry. A costume piece can appear more or less authentic depending on the person wearing it. Individual pieces of a person's wardrobe seen in context can elicit very different reactions from observers.
Gosline's research also showed that people are willing to pay twice as much for an item that they think will impress others and can be used to trumpet wealth and status. In another study she found that many purchasers who buy knock-off bags later gone on to buy real ones. Quoted in the Bloomberg article she says that the counterfeit served as a "placebo for brand attachment" leading people to become attached to a certain brand even though they never actually owned it.