“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.”
Thoughts on the Novel: The Knockoff is an us-versus-them tale in which the “us “very much depends on the age of the person reading the novel. Readers’ reactions will also depend on the readers’ ages, for The Knockoff is all about ageism and the differences between generations. It is a fascinating presentation, and the discussions one could have among generations are endless.
Imogen will resonate with most Gen-Xers and Boomers. She is in her early forties, has a young family and must balance the demands of said family with a high-profile, upper management position in the fashion industry. More than proficient in industry knowledge and influence, she does not have time to learn the new technology or its lingo. More importantly, in the past she has not had to do so thanks to assistants assigned to do that work for her. However, after a six-month sabbatical for health reasons, she learns just how quickly life, thanks to technology, changes.
Eve is Imogen’s exact opposite. Young and eager and having grown up surrounded by technology, Eve is out to take over the world. She has no family to divert her attention and thanks to her beloved gadgets remains connected to her job 24/7. The previous way of doing business, any business, is as antiquated as the horse and buggy and anyone supporting those old methods should be set to pasture alongside the horse. Her energy is endless, and there is no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to social media.
To say that the two clash is an understatement. Imogen struggles to learn the new rules of doing business to capitalize on the available technology, while Eve just wants Imogen out of the way. The dynamic between the two is fraught with tension and frustration and achingly realistic. Talk to anyone in management above a certain age, and they will all have stories similar to Imogen’s. Then again, talk to anyone Eve’s age and her frustrations are their frustrations. The Knockoff captures the individual sides perfectly.
While The Knockoff does present some serious clashes in generational knowledge and expectations, it manages to do so with a lightness that will allow both sides to enjoy the story. Ms. Sykes and Ms. Piazza keep the story from being anything but an enjoyable experience for readers of all ages. The pacing is fast but engaging. Plus, they have a lot of fun with language and language differences that everyone will appreciate.
There is a lot to love in The Knockoff. Think of it as The Devil Wears Prada for the next generation. However, to expect the same story as Prada would be to seriously underestimate the twists and turns The Knockoff has in store for readers. Anyone who has ever been frustrated at work due to a genuine clash in personality and expectations should read The Knockoff. In fact, it would make a fantastic book club option, as it is quick, light, and humorous, and yet presents multiple situations and characters that are open to interpretation.