The Art of Dupe Shopping

dup shopping
budget wise

Back in the early aughts, name brands were everything. They were a status symbol, an indicator of supposed wealth and a representation of what was undoubtedly “in.”

That was then. Nowadays? It’s all about the dupe.

What Is Dupe Shopping?

A shortened term for “duplicate,” dupe refers to products with a permissible similarity to another, more expensive product. For example, this $37 Amazon dress that’s a dead ringer for the viral $90 Skims version, or this insulated water bottle that could pass for the mega-popular Stanley, but for half the price.

Below, we see this in action. Rather than spend close to $1,000 on the trendy swivel chair from CB2, this user found an almost identical dupe on Wayfair for much less.

Even fast food favorites can be duped:

Dupes get you the look for less, and everyone wants in. Videos tagged with #dupe on TikTok have over 6.5 billion views, solidifying the trend’s gargantuan popularity – and mighty profit power.

The short answer? Saving money.

Although brands that are commonly duped aren’t considered luxury (midrange brands like Skims or Abercrombie are popular duped brands, particularly for Gen Z), there’s a certain thrill in finding a cheap alternative for a popular product – especially if it’s been discontinued, sold out or otherwise unavailable.

Thanks to TikTok and Instagram, we’re now able to see the dupe possibilities on a whole array of products from makeup to jeans, water bottles, home decor, shoes and everything in between.

Tricks to Finding a Good Dupe

Three aspects to consider when searching for a dupe:

  • Material
  • Similar ingredients
  • Other features of the original product like shape, flavor or color.

Some dupes can be found simply by how they look. Over the holidays, many on social media were finding dupes for Pottery Barn holiday decor that looked essentially identical to those being sold at a higher price from the retailer.

Other dupes need a bit of research. Take the viral Flawless Filter makeup foundation from Charlotte Tilbury ($49) versus its dupe contender Halo Glow from e.l.f. Cosmetics ($14). Both have generally similar ingredients, which can suggest a comparable formula (not to mention Halo Glow’s almost identical packaging and applicator).

The same goes for Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in shade Black Honey ($24) compared to e.l.f.’s Sheer Slick Lipstick in Black Cherry ($5):

For a product like athleisure, it’s all down to feel. Both of these $23 leggings from Amazon and Lululemon’s coveted $98 Align pant have an 80% nylon composition, making them seemingly analogous. Paying special attention to a garment’s fabric make up also makes it a bit easier when buying online when you’re not able to see or feel the difference close up.

Of course, one of the best ways to investigate a good dupe is to search for it on social media. Simply searching for the product of your choice plus “dupe” in TikTok or Reels will reveal video upon video of users testing, trying on and reviewing, so you can see for yourself how its dupes really stack up.

Start Dupe Shopping!

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Have you found a dupe worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.

When you make a purchase through a third-party link, AAA Northeast could receive revenue. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. 

This article is for informational purposes only. AAA does not endorse any of the products mentioned.

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5 Thoughts on “The Art of Dupe Shopping

  1. Oh, we are sold on quick and cheap. But if you care about the planet and your own health, be willing to spend a lot of time researching before spending. Just one toxic ingredient overlooked in what you buy could harm you or your family — and likely is already adding to pollution. The cheapest products involve the most pollution in our air, land and water. And all too often involve child labor or other enslaving cost-cutters. Why? Because it’s cheap. And SO profitable!

    …And we have been indoctrinated to be good, desperate consumers. Strangely, it seems people are less happy and more lonely than ever. Maybe it’s time we rethink what we are doing. So far, in my experience, AAA has always offered a good product. But I am disappointed in seeing an article like this being posted as being something helpful. We must all take responsibility for our actions and question blindly following trendy marketing ploys, both companies and individuals. Do your own research. About EVERYTHING! So you can feel good about yourself!

  2. This article is upsetting. There are so many companies stealing pictures from other sites and marketing as that product for a fraction of the cost. The customer gets fooled and the real company loses money. You shouldn’t be encouraging this.

  3. I want to find products NOT made in China. How about an article on goods made in America. This is not a prejudicial request. I just want an opportunity to support locally made merchandise. I will admit that a couple of times I was “duped” by the two largest online ordering businesses. Two orders that were to come directly from China never arrived.

    1. I second that motion! Seems that these days just about everything comes from China – I’m often relieved to read a label and find that something is made in India, the Philippines, Taiwan, or Vietnam, rather than China. I’d love to find good products that are made in the USA!

      American-made products I can recommend:

      Staples storage bins – so useful & long-lasting
      MyPillow pillows, pillowcases, etc.
      The Sundance Catalog – their clothing & jewelry is often made in the USA, much of it by Native American artists

      Also, clothing from Peruvian Connection isn’t made here, but it is made in Peru rather than China – and it’s beautiful.

      And of course, going to craft fairs and buying handmade items from local artists and artisans – that’s the best of all.

  4. I know I’m dating myself, but in my day, we called it a “knock off”. This isn’t a new trend at all but glad to see it is being resurrected. One of my favorite “knock off’s” is a bag I bought at Macy’s that looks like an expensive “Polo”.

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