For those of us that are familiar with Reddit, we know it as a place to read, watch and comment on content or topics that are of interest to us. There doesn’t seem to be a stone unturned, when it comes to the quantity of topics covered on the user-generated platform. So with nearly 150K active communities and 14 billion views per month, it has inevitably caught counterfeiters’ attention. They have found a new online community to market their replicas.
- Reddit's fashion replica communities are sizeable and highly active
- The popularity of replica subreddits are of concern to brands
- Fashion replica subreddits are a hub for tips on how to buy fakes
Reddit: A brief intro
Reddit is a user-generated platform, meaning that all the content that is popular on each subreddit (a page dedicated to a specific topic) is “upvoted” or “downvoted”. The popularity is purely based on users’ votes, which is the root of Reddit’s growing popularity. There is no other factor that determines a post’s popularity other than how useful or interesting it is to each user.
There are rules, known as reddiquette, and although there are user profiles, users tend to stay anonymous. The activity is on the subreddit pages themselves, as well as the Reddit homepage.
As for the users themselves, it rivals Twitter with the amount of active users at 330 million. 15% of American men and 8% of American women are on Reddit. The most popular age group is 18-25 reaching a total of 22% in overall users. The United States is the country with the most active users (38.09%) and accounts for 5% of the country’s overall social media website traffic.
The steady increase in popularity of the platform in recent years makes it one of the most important ones for brands to monitor. It is now the sixth most visited website in the world.
Reddit’s fashion replica subreddit communities are sizeable and varied
There are three main subreddits that are big alarm bells for fashion brands searching for fashion replicas:
1./r/Repsneakers (172k members)
“Reddit’s largest replica sneaker discussion board”
You will find replicas of all the most sought-after sneaker brands. Photos, unboxings, videos and reviews with tips and tricks on where to buy them. One technique is for users to share their instant messaging ID in the comments section of the post for redditors to get in touch directly. Of course, like all subreddits, there are rules. One of which is “Absolutely no selling!”, which seems very difficult to track. The fact that you can private message any user makes this rule impossible to monitor. In addition to this, the product pictures often have the seller’s number and website in the background. They may eventually get taken down by a moderator, but by that time it has caught the attention of many users. If a reddit member gets blocked, all they have to do is create a new anonymous account and start over.
“A community based on the discussion of the replica culture”
The biggest fashion replica sub, with 283k members (and counting). This subreddit comes with a comprehensive “Newbie Guide + Frequently used Terms” to assist new members of this subreddit looking for fashion replicas. They answer questions such as: “I clicked on that TaoBao link and it's all in Chinese. How am I ever going to figure this out?”. Not only is this subreddit filled with multiple hourly posts of fashion replicas, it also gives a full comprehensive guide to whoever is interested. No user is permitted to explicitly sell through a post, but there’s no difficulty in finding the source.
3./r/DesignerReps (113k members)
“Designer Reps is a community made for sharing, searching for and discussing replicas of luxury and high fashion brands only.”
Only high end, designer fashion replicas are found on this subreddit. In fact, one of the rules state that non high-end products cannot be posted. The quality of replicas found here are undeniably good. There are more than 40 different guides available, to easily navigate through different platforms. Buying designer fashion replicas is completely demystified to any user that finds this subreddit.
The popularity of fashion replicas on Reddit
All three of these subreddits are worryingly active. Reddimetrics.com gives a clear perspective on how each of these are incrementing in popularity (see DesignerReps metrics here).
The fact that it’s a user-generated platform is problematic in the case of fashion replicas. It gives a sense of trust to users discovering this alternative to buying originals. There is no mention of the dangers of counterfeit fashion. Nor is there a mention of its link to terrorism, or pollution. As a matter of fact, it gives the opposite impression on this dark fashion replica industry. There is a positive outlook on replicas, users don’t care and may not be aware of these issues whatsoever. Red Points market research on online shoppers under 30 found that 50.7% of this younger generation were either indifferent or not concerned at all about the fashion replica industry. Brands' reputation take a big hit, which -in some cases- is irreparable.
In quoting the intro to the r/FashionReps guide, which is the second Hottest post: “Whatever. Point is, you're here to completely overhaul your wardrobe and not spend very much money.” There is no question that this is geared to younger generations who either cannot afford the authentic item or simply want to pay less for it, with the help of other Reddit users.
With 56M redditors considered as fashionistas, it is influencing the way these users are consuming fashion. The user-generated social media platform looks to be the next biggest problem for the sale of fashion replica clothes. Brands need to pay attention to what is happening on this platform if they want to tackle the issue.
Users are educating others into becoming better replica hunters
The most important factor is to be aware of the issue, in order to act upon it. The good news is that this is easily done, all the information is available on the subreddits.
Here’s a quick explanation of some key terms outlined on the /r/FashionReps page:
- QC: Quality Control, which is when users post an item that was ordered to ask other users if they are good quality replicas.
- LC: Legit Check is a tag used to check if the product they have bought are authentic or not.
- GP: Guinea Pig is the term used when a user has tested a seller’s new item on sale and posts pictures of it within the subreddit to get users’ opinions of the quality.
- W2C: Where to Cop will be found on posts by users looking for a specific item.
- 1:1: One to One. This is when the replica is considered perfect.
- GL: Green Light is given by users as a reply to posts looking for a QC to give their approval.
- B&S: Bait & Switch is to alert users of a seller that has advertised a product that is not what has been received by a user.
It is important to mention that one of the rules on each of these subreddits is that no selling is allowed from user to user. They aren’t buying and selling fashion replicas to each other. It’s a space where users exchange tips and tricks to purchase replicas. That being said, all the necessary information is outlined by users, along with pictures of the best finds.
And although there may not be a direct link to buying and selling on reddit, there are discount pages on the right-hand toolbar from various platforms. There is also a “white list” of pages that are allowed to be mentioned on posts, some of which are platforms that sell fashion replicas. It leaves no doubts to the fact that these subs are facilitating the sale of replicas.
Brands can gain extensive knowledge of the fashion replica community, thanks to these subreddits. Users give their opinion on the products, as well as insightful knowledge of replica quality and origin. It’s the inside scoop on what's trending in terms of replicas. How they are consumed can give insightful ideas for brands looking to convert this audience to buying their original products.
The downside to discovering replicas of your brand on these subreddits is the proliferous rate of publications. It is next to impossible to successfully track these manually. Once a brand has incorporated all the relevant intellectual property law to their brand, focusing on creative, tech-based solutions is the best way forward. There may be some easy wins with manual searches, but consumers of fashion replicas have been finding online loopholes for too long to abstain from continuing to do so.