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Premium Brands vs. Designer Dupes: The Battle for Gen Z’s Attention

Gen Z is known for their desire to stay on top of the latest trends and their ability to quickly move on to the next big thing, making it crucial for luxury brands to constantly innovate and stay ahead of the curve.


The competition between luxury brands and designer dupes has become increasingly fierce as Gen Z shoppers seek affordable options without compromising style. Luxury brands are struggling to compete with the flood of designer dupes, which offer designer-inspired looks at a fraction of the cost. To stay ahead of the competition, some designers are creating their own dupes to cater to the changing consumer landscape and capture the attention of Gen Z—but there may be better ways than joining the fray to combat the rise of dupes.

Let’s explore how luxury brands are dealing with this growing trend of dupes and their strategies to stay competitive.

The rise of designer dupes in the fashion industry

Dupes of high-end fashion and beauty products have taken the industry by storm in post-Covid years. Once considered knockoffs, designer dupes are now seen as a trendy way to stand out, and this shift in perception can be attributed to the influence of Gen Z consumers known for their desire to find affordable alternatives. But just because a product might be more affordable does not always mean that the quality is there, too.

Imagine someone purchasing an ensemble based on recommendations from an Instagram or TikTok influencer who claimed it was an exact dupe for a designer item. However, upon receiving the package, they quickly realized that the quality and resemblance were far from what was advertised.

Despite such setbacks, dupes have gained popularity due to influencers promoting them as “perfect dupes” for luxury and premium brands. You can hardly go ten swipes on TikTok before stumbling over an influencer’s claim to Amazon dupes for Lululemon or Charlotte Tilbury. Gen Z consumers are attracted to the idea of finding affordable options that still allow them to express their personal style, and as a result, legit premium brands are now faced with the challenge of keeping up with the designer dupes trend.

Understanding Gen Z’s consumer behavior

Gen Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, is quickly becoming a group that demands attention in the fashion industry, making it crucial for luxury brands to understand their consumer behavior.

One of the core characteristics of Gen Z is their pragmatic approach to money and education. They tend to be financially responsible and are willing to save up for purchases that they find valuable. This generation is also highly tech-savvy, having grown up in a digital world. Relying heavily on technology for shopping and gathering information about products and brands, this demographic often shops via social media platforms where influencers and peer recommendations hold significant sway.

Additionally, Gen Z is known for their belief in social causes and for their individualistic streak. They appreciate brands that align with their own values and are actively involved in promoting ethical practices and corporate responsibility. This means that luxury brands need to prioritize transparency and showcase their commitment to sustainability, fair labor practices, and other social causes. While Gen Z consumers are price-conscious, it’s important to remember they are not necessarily price-centric.  This is a lesson that some fast-fashion brands have recently learned the hard way

Luxury brands that have adapted to dupe trends

One luxury brand that has successfully embraced the designer dupe trend is Lululemon. Known for their high-quality athletic apparel, Lululemon saw the rise in popularity of dupes on TikTok and decided to leverage this trend to their advantage.

In a unique move, Lululemon hosted a dupe swap event at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles, an event that enticed customers to bring in their knockoff versions of Lululemon’s popular Align pants and exchange them for a genuine pair at a discounted price. The Align pants, which launched in 2015, have developed a cult following since their release, and this event further solidified their status as a must-have item.

Challenges and risks for Gen Z’s attention

One of the main challenges is maintaining exclusivity and prestige. Luxury brands have built their reputation on offering unique and high-quality products that are often associated with a certain level of exclusivity. However, the popularity of designer dupes, which offer similar designs at a fraction of the price, can dilute this exclusivity. Gen Z, being cost-conscious and value-oriented, may find it difficult to justify the cost of luxury items when there are cheaper alternatives available, especially for a demographic where the oldest of the generation are only 2-4 years into their careers post-college.

Another challenge is the ever-changing trends and fast-paced nature of the fashion industry. Gen Z is known for their desire to stay on top of the latest trends and their ability to quickly move on to the next big thing, making it crucial for luxury brands to constantly innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

Luxury brands face the risk of losing their brand identity and authenticity when they try to emulate the designer dupes trend. Gen Z values authenticity and transparency, and they can easily see through brands that are simply jumping on the bandwagon. Luxury brands must find a balance between embracing the dupe trend and staying true to their unique offerings and brand DNA.

As experts in luxury recruitment, we understand the importance of having the right team in place to navigate the ever-changing consumer landscape. Whether you need executives with a keen understanding of Gen Z’s mindset or marketers who can create compelling campaigns, our extensive network of top talent in the fashion industry allows us to find the perfect match for your company.

Don’t let the designer dupe trend leave your brand behind. Contact The Bowerman Group today and let us help you find the talent you need to stay ahead of the competition.