The thrill of the dupe

Dupe culture is on the rise

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The Future. While cheaper versions of existing products are nothing new, the rise of dupe culture has led some brands to embrace knockoffs as a way to attract young shoppers. This trend could be a financial win-win for brands eager to grow in awareness (without direct paid advertising) and for consumers who want to look stylish without breaking the bank.

Cashing in on the craze
Some brands are tapping into dupe culture to reinforce their premium position in a crowded marketplace.

  • Lululemon hosted a “Dupe Swap” in LA, where consumers could exchange knockoff leggings for a free pair of the brand’s Align pants. The event drew thousands of attendees — half of whom were new customers.
  • Whole Foods created TikTok videos showcasing its 365 label as a dupe for brands such as Coca-Cola and Froot Loops.

Finding “good enough” for less money
Dupe culture, which can sometimes promote waste, might appear inconsistent with the younger generation’s enthusiasm for sustainability. But smaller price tags beat authenticity in a challenging economy.

Search engines have made it easier to discover a product and find less expensive alternatives. The #dupe hashtag has 4.4 billion views on TikTok and 300,000 posts on Instagram.

It’s become not only socially acceptable — but even a badge of honor — for thrifty shoppers to hunt down the perfect dupe instead of shelling out for the real thing.

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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