Friday, May 23, 2003

Will The Real Longchamp Please Stand Up?



Street vendors hawking counterfeit designer accessories is nothing new, but several around town recently caught my eye with their very authentic versions of the signature nylon Longchamp tote bag. The ‘real deal’, available at the Longchamp Boutique, 713 Madison Avenue (at 63rd street, 212 223 1500), as well as selected department stores and specialty shops, is currently available in 12 colors, 11 sizes and shapes, and is priced from about $65 to $175.

But if you head over to the corner of 56th and 5th, a dealer is offering his versions in several yummy summer colors like lime, pink, cornflower blue, and orange for $15 to $25 depending on size. At these prices, why not buy a wardrobe of shades to suit your mood and outfit? I own the original in pink, but was tempted to ‘splurge’ on another, and settled on a bright orange (as in ‘code orange’) trapezoidal shape, marked $20 (the dealer took $19).

These bags make for the perfect travel, beach, and summer tote, and even though the knockoffs are naturally, not as well made as the real Longchamp offerings (the nylon isn’t as hefty and the luggage trim is pleather not leather), they actually have some advantages over the more expensive originals. In addition to the low price, they boast nice linings, (which the others are missing), generous zippered change pockets, and cell phone holders.

By the way, the vendor was also selling Kate Spade look-alike two toned ‘canvas’ bags: his $25 structured mini size totes are being offered in lime/black, pink/black, blue/black, and the nice surprise is that instead of canvas, these are actually made of nylon, which renders them more lightweight and more practical! And he also has a $25 interpretation of the luxurious Hermes canvas beach tote which is available at Hermes, 691 Madison Avenue (at 62nd street, 212 751 3181) in two sizes and 7 colors ($405 and $500).

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