For the best part of the past five years, we’ve been collectively obsessed with the dupe. Us beauty bloggers have undoubtedly been fueling the trend, promising readers that the latest eyeshadow palette to land on our doorstep is a brilliant copy of something four times the price, but the market has also been driven by technological improvements that allow us to buy into the same quality for a fraction of the previous cost. When I was growing up the only ‘budget’ beauty brands were Collection 2000 and Boots 17, both offering a plethora of products to get experimental with but the quality wasn’t there; as soon as we could upgrade to something a touch more glamorous, we would. Skip forward a few decades and those (rebranded) names are not only offering far superior quality and in some instances competing with some of the most luxury cosmetics available, but our high streets have been somewhat revolutionised. Names including MUA, Makeup Revolution, Lottie London, NYX, Freedom, GOSH, Miss Sporty, Model’s Own and Sleek are proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to fill your makeup bag with greatness – but they’re also collectively providing us with dupes of everything from Urban Decay Naked palettes and Kylie liquid lipsticks, to NARS blushers and Bobbi Brown highlighters. For a moment there we got a bit excited, but are we over it? Is 2017 the year that we’re finally bored of the dupe and we start trading up for something we can treasure?
In my opinion the growth of our dupe fascination came with the rise in popularity of throwaway fashion and being able to snap up something on-trend for the price of your morning coffee. Primark allowed us to update last year’s jumper with the help of a £2.50 statement necklace, or pick up a pair of pumps for £4.00 during our lunchbreak; we became obsessed with buying all the fashion and always having something new to adorn our bodies with, as for the first time ever fashion became insanely affordable. It became the norm to buy a new outfit for every night out, because we didn’t have to break our backs to do so; it became pretty standardised to pick up a Mulberry or Chloe copy from New Look or Topshop as the high street tried to capture our attention in new and exciting ways. Unsurprisingly this filtered pretty quickly into the beauty industry, with consumers always wanting to hunt down that must-have product without having to fork out the full price.
Some brands have built their entire business models off the back of dupes, even taking the time to ensure their packaging is ‘inspired’ by their more expensive counterparts. Makeup Revolution, Barry M, Sleek, W7 and The Balm are some of the worst (or best) culprits, being able to turn around a new product and offer up a dupe sometimes within a few months of the original hitting shelves. Others take a softer approach, preferring to identify trends (nude eyeshadow palettes, liquid lipsticks and finely milled pigmented blushers) and create their own take without stepping on any toes. Up until this point they’ve benefited from a huge surge in consumer interest (fueled by bloggers knowing that anything considered a dupe will bring in those much needed hits!) but my gut feeling is that this is coming to an end. Although picking up a cut price item of makeup will give us a buzz, if it just doesn’t perform or feel like the original would we be better off saving our pennies and splurging on products we know we’ll thoroughly enjoy from beginning to end?
I love brands like Makeup Revolution, but I can’t help but feel like they need to step out of the dupe arena and create something new. Endless tweaks on the same product get a little dull, while a stand full of copycats makes me feel like they lack the creativity consumers are beginning to expect. Just as I’ve moved away from fast fashion, I’m also moving away from fast beauty; I would far prefer to spend £20.00 on something I know produces the results I need than impulsively chuck a few pounds on something ten times over that never gets used. Although the quality of affordable makeup is so much better than it ever has been, I do feel that as a society we’re moving towards more considered purchasing and are starting to make wise investments less often – rather than feeling the need to snap up anything and everything because it’s cheap.
Personally I adore affordable beauty and I know you do too; I know you love to find out what’s exciting and what bargain buys are worth snapping up, but it’s all about balance. I know you also want to know what’s worth spending your money on and making informed decisions about those purchases. Although I don’t think these affordable brands are going anywhere, I do feel that this year there will be a move away from creating copies and dupes – towards real innovation that stands on its own two feet. Brands including Kiko, NYX and Bourjois are creating covetable pieces (at affordable prices) without feeling the need to copy or imitate, to the point where they’re sure to become cult classics themselves; with the technological advances and birth of the internet allowing practically anyone to set up shop and ship worldwide, there’s no excuse to remain stagnant or just copy what everyone else is doing. Us consumers demand more, but brands are you listening?
What do you think about dupes and copycat brands? Do you love them and can’t get enough, or are you moving towards more considered investment purchases? Or are you just torn?