Japan has stayed largely insulated from fakes in fashion. This is due in part to proactive policing of the kind of blatant sales of fakes seen at markets and informal shops in Southern Europe and East Asia. While a decade or so ago you would see iffy pirated software sold openly on the back streets of Akihabara, the piles of counterfeit handbags you see abroad have always been harder to find.
There is one exception: Chrome Hearts, the Los Angeles-based gothic silver jewelry brand that has managed to retain its cultural clout in Japan ever since Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons Aoyama flagship collaborated with the brand in 1991. Since then, it is as if everyone decided en masse to look the other way on imitations as a seemingly uncontrolled flood of fakes find their way both to street stalls and respected accessory shops. To this day, you won’t struggle to find weekend sellers hawking cheap and sometimes fake accessories around Tokyo’s Akihabara and Ueno.
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