A Chinese photographer is making counterfeit luxury goods and knock-off designs look good. With a budget of just $9 per item, Quentin Shih, a photographer from Tianjin, held a fashion shoot in a small coal-producing city in Shanxi province that is best known for its choking air pollution.
Counterfeit goods have been the focus of the government’s recent criticism of Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce retailer. And China leads the world in the sale of counterfeit goods—also known as shanzhai, meaning imitated or pirated brands—with its factories producing almost 70% of the world’s total supply, according to the United Nations.
Shih takes a more positive look on these goods. His motive was to “explore typical small city lives” in central, poorer China. ”I want to create some humor using fake luxury goods, and the vivid color of these goods is also what interested me, ” he told Quartz. “But the fake stuff is not the whole topic I want to explore—young people, life, portraits are what I’m looking for in this project,” he said.
He recruited students as models and used a local makeup artist and bought or rented clothing from a local market—including counterfeit Prada and Dior items, along with other cheap clothes copying the latest fashions. Here are some photos, courtesy of Shih, from his series titled, “9 Dollars Fashion for Photography,” shot in 2013 in Linfen. You can see more of Shih’s work on his website or read more about him on Jing Daily.