Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Balenciaga Bazar Totes!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Balenciaga Bazar Tote series celebrates those used in South-East Asian markets. Whether it is in the Philippines where they are called Palengke bags, or Thailand where they are called Sampeng bags, these large versatile totes, made of synthetic polypropylene inspired Balenciaga collections on the 2016 runway. 

Are these bags legitimate? 

According to the Thai Department of Intellectual Property: "It's unlikely anybody can sue Balenciaga because the materials and shapes are different." (Vogue UK, 2016). Indeed, according to RealStyle (2017), the many upgrades of the Balenciaga Bazar totes, such as the stitching of each individual stripe, the inside lining with leather trimmed pockets, both zippered and patch, as well as the logo, appearing on the front of the Balenciaga Bazar totes, would also preclude it from being considered counterfeit. The point of a counterfeit, according to RealStyle, is for the fake to pass as another brand, so the branded Balenciaga totes are indeed genuine Balenciaga totes.

A point which the voices of dissent (i.e.; of the disenfranchised) might see in a completely different light... since branding and ownership of the design might be argued as precisely the point of contention. As for the stitching of the Balenciaga Bazar totes, which is noticed by those skilled in the art, since the stitching at the perimeter of the bags purposefully appears in white, rather than "tonal" (meaning that the stitches do not blend in), and with a low number of stitches per inch to emulate the cheaper South-East Asian versions, this might precisely be construed as the perfect proof of  counterfeit. 

However, beyond arguing fake and real, considering the position of the Thai Department of Intellectual Property, the deeper issue that polarizes is that, according to the World Bank, half of the poorest people on earth, living on less than $1.90 a day, are found in South East Asia. The question of legitimacy then could be re-framed as what might be done with the bags.

Original South East Asian market bag

Size, shape, color and material differences...
Vogue UK Balenciaga not copying Thai market bag
RealStyle (2017)  From Market to runway: Inside the Balenciaga bazar bag
Wolrd Bank in East Asia & Pacific
World Bank - Ending extreme poverty in South East Asia 
World Bank - On poverty

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