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Call them replicas, fakes, or imitations. Copying original designer items has become a huge multi-billion dollar industry. Product replicas have truly become a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. Counterfeit goods are estimated to account for 5-7% of global trade and generate more than $600 billion each year. This has been reinforced by the awakening of Asian manufacturing powerhouses such as China, as well as the almost insatiable demand from consumers for designer goods.

The availability and wide variety of replica items have been increasing steadily in recent years. If a certain item catches on (or “hot,” thanks Paris Hilton), you can be sure that a much more affordable, yet nearly indistinguishable replica is already on the way. If the genuine item is sold, the replica will also be sold. If there is a profit to be made, an industry will be born.

The most commonly replicated luxury items include luxury designer clothing, shoes, sportswear, perfumes, watches, sunglasses, and of course, designer handbags.

Many people will willingly buy a replica bag, as a well-made replica can offer the same prestige as the original, but without the often steep price tag. The average consumer simply cannot afford to pay the many hundreds, even thousands of dollars for the privilege of carrying an authentic Prada, Hermes or Louis Vuitton bag. It is estimated that more than 85% of all Louis Vuitton bags in use today are replicas. Even an expensive replica will usually be a fraction of the cost of the original, and can be virtually identical to the “real thing,” both in build quality and materials used in production.

Luxury items like designer handbags will, of course, vary in build quality and attention to detail. The packaging may also not be as flashy as that of an original. However, in general, the level of craftsmanship of counterfeit products can range from decent to outstanding. This can be attributed to the fact that copy manufacturers not only compete for position with the genuine article, but also compete with each other.

Some pieces will only be acceptable representations, while others are often mirror images of the original. However, if you look closely, you can discern some minor differences. The brand name or logo may differ slightly from the original, as may some of the design features of the bag itself.

The number of replica handbags flooding the designer market is not a minor headache for major fashion houses. High-end fashion manufacturers such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Chanel are very active in their efforts to stem the proliferation of replicas and counterfeit manufacturers who profit on the basis of their hard-earned prestige and brands. Fashion manufacturers spend millions of dollars annually to counter this growing problem.

However, consumers love replica designer handbags. And who can blame them? As already mentioned, the price is right! In fact, many consumers clearly blame the high prices of genuine designer products on the designer mega-houses themselves. Fashion houses have been known to deliberately undervalue a product, artificially increasing demand and prices.

People will always covet designer fashion products. The more difficult and expensive it is to obtain them, the more effort the consumer will put into finding an easier and less expensive means of obtaining them.

The availability of high-quality replica handbags means that even the budget-conscious shopper can enjoy the prestige of owning a designer item that looks and feels like the real thing. No longer are these poorly designed imitations that fall apart after a few days. The intense competition in the replica market not only leads to competitive prices, but also to superior quality.

The much lower cost also gives the fashion conscious shopper the ability to own numerous designer handbags without breaking the bank. Hit the streets with a Gucci on Monday and a Louis Vuitton on Tuesday. Virtually every popular designer handbag is available somewhere in replica form.

When the inevitable new lines arrive, the replica market once again allows the consumer to embrace current fashion trends. Let’s face it, only the very rich are in a position to continually update their wardrobes with authentic versions of every fashion-forward designer. Replicated handbags make “staying trendy” an achievable goal for a considerably larger portion of the population.

It is clear that buying replica handbags simply makes economic sense for the average fashion conscious consumer and that is undoubtedly the biggest factor driving this booming industry.

With the massive growth of the internet, there is no longer a need to buy second-rate replica handbags in a public market under everyone’s scrutiny. Now you can enjoy the comfort and privacy of select top-quality replicas in the privacy of your own home. There is no doubt that replica designer handbags are here to stay!

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