Authentic replicas: Influencers, Knock-off culture, and Circuits of aspirational knowledge among Chinese Singaporeans

Looking closely at knock-off material culture as facilitated by social media, this article investigates young women Influencers’ and followers’ exchanges of financial, social, and cultural capital regarding counterfeit products. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork and through the lens of grounded theory analysis, I investigate Influencers’ enactments of knock-off culture on social media and in physical spaces, and the ways in which they posture as arbiters of taste, gatekeepers of discount luxury, and tastemakers of democratic aspirations. Specifically, I examine a hierarchy of knock-off consumption and displays through a vocabulary of euphemisms and approachable grammar, and an ecology of manufacturers, suppliers, models, and consumers. Through these practices, Influencers create and curate circuits of aspirational knowledge in which watered-down luxury fashion procures accretive value as authentic replicas.

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For the keynote: Abidin, Crystal. 2017. “Authentic replicas: Influencers, Knock-off culture, and Circuits of aspirational knowledge among Chinese Singaporeans.” Cultures of Knowledge: Creative Economy and China Summer School and Conference. Curtin University, Perth. February 7-11, 2017. <Event>