03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Drawing a Moral Line with Faux Fashion

My sister recently decided to take her Louis Vuitton bag into the LV shop to ask about its authenticity. (It was a gift, so she just wanted to be sure she was toting the real deal around town.) And gasp, the saleswoman pointed to the leather and size of the bag as giveaways that her bag was not, in fact, authentic. And even though we never realized it was a fake (it was a damn good one, I might add), she just couldn't carry it any longer. "It's a matter of integrity," she said. "If you carry a fake, you are a fake."

Along the same vein, I don't support the fur industry. As an animal lover, I think it's cruel and revolting. However, is faux fur any better? It says to the world that you still like the look, so if you're truly against wearing fur, shouldn't you shun the fake as well? After all, how will protesters know if they can splash red paint on you or not? (Once my mother and I were shopping in downtown Seattle and she was verbally abused for wearing a fur-lined jacket. The fur was in fact faux but she didn't want to announce that (because she wears the real thing and I think she was embarrassed to be wearing faux?) and instead we sneered and scuttled into the Nordstrom flagship.) And what about this season's hot trend: leather. I don't eat meat, but I wear leather. Is that wrong?

When did fashion become such a moral dilemma? Do others struggle with these same issues? And if I buy something at Forever 21 that looks like something from the latest runway shows, is it a disservice to the talented, hard-working designer that crafted the original design, only to have it knocked off and hocked for $15.80?

Earlier this month, Coach filed a lawsuit against Target, claiming that the big box retailer's bags are too close to their higher-end designs. And it's not just physical stores: Online sales are on the rise for replica retailers. If anything, faux merchandise is more accessible than ever before. Every week there's a new story in the news about a bust on fakes - to the point that it's becoming like drugs. Do we need to declare war on faux fashion? (Perhaps Michelle Obama can have her legacy be the War on Replicas?)

I guess like any moral code, it's personal and I will have to continue to reconcile my love of inexpensive, disposable trends with my respect for designers. The bad news in this situation is that it seems to be a growing problem, especially in the world of counterfeit handbags, jewelry and watches. The good news: my sister shouldn't have any problem reselling her bag.