Reinterpreting How and Why People Consume Counterfeit Fashion Products: A Sociological Challenge to the Pro-Business Paradigm

Matthew Ming-Tak Chew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study challenges the dominant pro-business research paradigm on counterfeit fashion products (CFPs). It offers a critical, sociological, and qualitative alternative to the field’s pro-business, psychologistic, and positivist scholarship. To support intellectual property rights claims, the pro-business paradigm presumes that the consumption of CFPs is exclusively driven by consumers’ pursuit of social status and/or fashionability. This study identifies six alternative ways people consume CFPs and analyzes the unexplored sociological and normative background to such consumption. The six alternative ways involve (i) dedicated fans who collect CFPs of a brand, (ii) working-class migrants who wear CFPs to integrate into host societies, and (iii) non-wealthy individuals who buy CFPs as functional clothing, (iv) businesspersons wearing CFPs to cope with local sartorial culture, (v) amoral neoliberal shoppers, and (vi) inhabitants of the fashion lifeworld who occasionally purchase CFPs. Data were collected from 12 Chinese cities between 2008 and 2012. In the first phase, I informally interviewed over 100 individuals to delineate some ways of consuming CFPs. The second phase consisted of multiple-session intensive interviews with 31 main informants, participant observation with six of them, and informal interviews with 36 secondary informants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-261
Number of pages25
JournalFashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture
Issue number2
Early online date10 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

User-Defined Keywords

  • consumer ethics
  • counterfeit fashion
  • intellectual property rights
  • sociology of consumption
  • sociology of fashion


Dive into the research topics of 'Reinterpreting How and Why People Consume Counterfeit Fashion Products: A Sociological Challenge to the Pro-Business Paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this