Could buying a fake bag be an ethical decision?

When thinking of pirate and fake products two things come to my mind. It’s kind of wrong and it’s cheap.But things aren’t so black and white as I have learned while living here in Guangzhou. In the picture a traffic policeman is not arresting the guy for selling pirate products, he is buying a fake Nokia headset for himself. Right and wrong seems not to be so clear here in China.

Today I accompanied my friend who wanted to buy few bags for herself and as a present for her family members. We head to the Guangzhou Baiyun World Leather Trading Center that locates near the main railway station. That is a fake bag paradise! You can buy a Gucci or Dior bag for about 40 euros. Are these bag real? No, or almost.

There are three kind of bags. The truly fake ones, the truly real ones and then something between. Those are made in the very same factory as the real bags, but just sold in other place with an other price. That is the reason they may be identical with the real bags and the only difference is the price tag.

Lots of brand bags are made in Dongguan, very close to Guangzhou. In those factories the workers have long days and are really fortunate if have their Sundays off. Basic salary is about 100 euros per month. The factory offers accommodation but it means sharing a room with 20 other workers. If you want to know more about these migrant workers I really recommend a book Factory girls by Leslie T. Chang.

I started thinking could buying a fake bag actually be an ethical choice? If you buy it from a guy selling stuff on the street, the money is probably going to his pockets. If you buy 1000 euros bag from a Gucci store, then who is getting your money? If I would use so much money on something I would like to know how that product is made and who am I supporting with that purchase. Where is the Fair Trade for bags?

Today my choise was to buy a non-brand leather wallet. It can’t be fake because it doesn’t have any labels. I paid 40 yuan which was good for me and to the lady that sold it to me. I would call this a win-win situation, but with so many fake bags around me I couldn’t help thinking which would be the best choice. Fake or not?