What's The TikTok 'Dupe' Trend?

There's nothing new under the sun. But there's always something worth watching on TikTok. Most mysteriously, it has become a breeding ground for trends, and they transpire so fast that it's hard to keep your finger on the pulse of TikTok happenings. The social media app even has an up-to-the-minute ranking of the most viral hashtags, the most followed content creators, and the most watched videos (via TikTok). The funny thing about it is that it's super polarizing. While many trends are widely accepted because people find them entertaining, swathes provoke the ire of many users because, to some, they are nothing short of meaningless and even controversial.

And that might be the case of the dupe trend found on TikTok. In fact, a search for the trend has racked in over 2 billion views recently (per TikTok). But what exactly is it? Here's a recap of the trend to keep you in the loop.

What is a dupe?

The dupe trend is when TikTok users go around thrift stores or malls and joke that certain products from lesser-known brands are dupes from recognized brands. For example, TikTok user ethancheatwod uploaded a clip where two people can be seen at Walmart picking up a bra and referring to it as something similar that can be shopped at Victoria's Secret, as known as a "Victoria's Secret dupe." Throughout the clip, a number of items can range from beauty products and clothes to food items.

So, what does dupe mean? The Collins English Dictionary defines dupe as a shorter form of duplicate, which makes sense given what people are doing with the trend. The idea of the trend is that people find something that is not only similar in looks but is also cheaper, which fellow users may find funny.

However, it's not a new concept on TikTok. Since last year, TikTok has seen several videos featuring goods sold for a fraction of the price. For instance, in a 2021 video with 4.2 million views, lifestyle influencer Liz Lovery shared her obsession with buying Lululemon dupes on Amazon while playing background audio noting, "I think this is an obsession that doesn't hurt anyone." So technically, this new dupe trend where people make a spectacle of themselves saying "dupe" in a public space is just a fun spin on TikTok that has really been around for quite some time. However, not everybody thinks the trend is amusing.

Some people don't find the trend funny

Even though the users posting the videos think it entertaining, others don't seem the least bit interested in the fad. "Let's pack up the DUPE trend please," TikTok creator Shy Smith writes on Twitter. A second Twitter user who goes by the username highkeyoli writes, "[I]'m gonna say it the "dupe" trend on [TikTok] is the worst most unfunny [TikTok] trend in the history of [TikTok I] hate it."

Although the trend-driven TikTok land is where people are free to take on whatever floats their boat, the dupe culture has been giving the owners of the original products a headache. It's one thing to snatch a great deal, but it's another thing to buy an exact copy of a product and encourage plagiarism. Marie Dewet, the founder of apparel brand MaisonCléo, has called out a number of online retailers who have sold lookalikes stolen from the brand's design but to no avail. It's like a fight that never ends, explains Dewet via Byrdie.

Ultimately, dupes still exist in the grey area, and it's up to consumers to decide if they want to continue going wild with the dupe culture. After all, buying them allows customers to experiment with new styles at reasonable prices, which is a boon in today's consumer society. However, the popularity of dupes encourages unrestrained consumption of fast fashion and could be detrimental to the planet in the long run.