Review: The Knockoff

Published May 19th 2015, 338 pages

Authors: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Overview from Goodreads:

An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

Personal Review

If the Miranda from the Devil Wears Prada was a more likable and sympathetic character while still being the expert in her industry, then you would get Imogen Tate, our MC for this story. Imogen returns to the office after an extended sick to find her former assistant, Eve, has now become her boss. Her magazine that she’s built is now on the verge of becoming solely an app. Although Eve may be a tech genius, she seriously lacks social decorum.  While Eve is up to the date on the latest technology, Imogen can barely work something simple like e-mail. It’s hard to believe though that a successful career woman with an attorney husband and a teenage daughter could be that clueless about the basics of technology. I could believe not knowing something like the ins and outs of twitter and of course not coding, but you’d think she would’ve had at least an idea about everything else.  This fits into the narrative of the book as it is integrated into the main plot of the novel, so I can’t fully be disappointed in it.

This book highlights generational differences where many Gen Z-ers (and some Millenials) are on social media all the time and sometimes forget to enjoy a meal or a moment as they are busy ensuring they get the perfect picture to make it seem as amazing as possible.  It was nice to have those differences showing how Imogen focuses on real relationships in the industry whereas Eve cares more about how it’ll look online.

Eve is trying to become Imogen only backed by technology in an ever changing world.  She believes she is superior and constantly gives back-handed compliments to Imogen to try and make her feel worthless because she’s not as up-to-date on the latest gadget or social media platform. However, Eve’s pushiness forces Imogen to learn. This is one of the many themes of this book as it shows that you must evolve yourself as society changes and you can never stop learning. Imogen plays a good game at not letting Eve get the best of her as she bounces back from every time Eve tries to knock her down. Eve is clueless about running a magazine and seems to follow what she read in a listicle about how to be the “cool boss.”

This book does an excellent job of being relatable and putting in the right amount of humor without making it feel forced. Imogen is a fantastic character that’s very relatable. Even though I’m not in the fashion industry with perks, I felt her “pain” to not be sitting in the front row during Fashion Week and to be placed near press. She uses her experience and knowledge to make the best of any situation and it’s something that any reader could learn from.  Eve is also very relatable as someone trying to make a name for themselves in the world while trying to constantly project perfection. The cast of background characters from around the office are well-placed in each chapter so you feel their pain when they have to attend yet another work-gathering or when they gossip about each other.

Overall, it’s a well-written book where you can look at how different generations and personalities are placed on the same team and must either sink or swim together. Even if you think that you know better, there is always something you can learn from either your peers or from another generation.  I definitely recommend this novel to any reader who not only wants a good story, but also wants to gain a nice insight into the fashion industry.

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