To Knock Out Knockoffs, Knock Off Knockoffs


At a pop-up market stall just off Canal Street, the Madison Avenue of the unauthenticated, shoppers have spent the last week snapping up off-price, jeans, hoodies, T-shirts and boxer briefs with a familiar, almost-right logo: Deisel. Sure, the “i” and “e” are on the wrong side of their usual do-si-do. But you get what you pay for. They’re $69.99; Diesel jeans generally start well over $200. Forget it, Jake — it’s Chinatown.

Companies like Diesel spend significant resources chasing down counterfeiters and stamping them out. According to Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel and president of its parent company, the Only the Brave Group, the label shut down 86 websites hawking fake products last year. But Mr. Rosso was crammed into the small, wood-paneled shop on Friday with no intention of dampening Deisel. He’d created it.

“This is a magical moment for logos,” he said, and a brand can embrace its own and its own imitation. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, the logic runs: Make the fakes, pocket the cash.

Photo

A purposely misspelled label is affixed to a pair of jeans for sale at a Diesel pop up shop.

Credit
Andrew White for The New York Times

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Rapper Gucci Mane, center, makes a guest appearance at a Diesel pop up shop.

Credit
Andrew White for The New York Times

Diesel is far from the only brand to come to this idea. Gucci has riffed on its own bootlegs (and styled its own “Guccy” logo) and set up shop with Daniel Day, better known as Dapper Dan, the counterfeit couturier it had once threatened out of business.

Like Gucci, Diesel aims to make its patronage an event. On Thursday, the rapper Gucci Mane posted about the shop on Instagram, inviting fans to meet him there at noon; by 12:30 the shop was thronged, and the security-patrolled line outside snaked nearly a full city block. The stall remains up through Monday; after that, the collection goes online.

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