Why designer-inspired looks are better than direct knockoffs

Michelle Obama in a Chanel inspired coat from White House, Black MarketMichelle Obama in a Chanel inspired coat from White House, Black MarketWith the fashion industry and our wallets suffering during this recession, it's tempting to pass up designer items for more affordable, identical knockoffs. Unfortunately, this type of spending will only further hurt the industry, with copyright lawsuits and the big brands we love to buy--or at least admire from afar--losing money.

There is a difference between a direct copy and an inspired item. Instead of buying a cheaply made, unlined fake Gucci bag where the "Gs" face the wrong way, why not find a bag in a similar hobo shape with the same green and red stripe design?

Topshop cardiganTopshop cardiganMichelle Obama spoke to students at the Energy Department yesterday wearing a black and white jacket (pictured above), which is very clearly in the vein of Chanel. I've always loved this classic look, with the trim and four pockets, and just last week purchased this cardigan with a nautical twist from Topshop. Sure, it may not be Chanel, but paired with black slacks and some faux pearls you can emulate the iconic Chanel style quite easily. Sometimes creating a cool outfit like that is more fun than spending loads of money on the high end original!

Would you buy a designer replicated item if it was cheaply made just for the status, or do you buy things because you like the style?