Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Who copied Who

I was about to write a quickie on intellectual rights in fashion and then I came across this by the Fashion Architect. Above, my new bikini, a gift. (I dare you say what the print reminds you of:P) So here are some facts instead:

fact - the fashion industry is amongst the very few where copyright law is a vague/inexistent territory, unlike art and music.

fact - all that could have been invented in fashion (shapes, styles, etc.) was invented by late '60s. Everything from then on is a mix or twist of those trends. So does every designer who makes mini skirts have to pay licencing to Mary Quant or Andre Courreges who are believed to have invented it?

fact - in order to make a collection, all fashion students have to study past and current designers for inspiration. That inspiration is sometimes obvious, but as long as there are 7 points of difference, (i.e. lenght, buttons, etc.) they are not considered to be knock offs.

fact - Fast fashion giant Forever 21 has had at least twenty lawsuits alleging Intellectual Property rights as of January 2006. (...) Lawsuits have included conflicts with Diane von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers line, Anna Sui, Bebe and Anthropologie. (...) Forever 21 does not employ its own fabric design team, instead the company purchases textiles from the designs of outside manufacturers. Consequently, the majority of the lawsuits files involve copyright infringement of fabric prints. (source: wiki)

fact - most (if not all) of the affordable clothing we buy from highstreet stores are OBVIOUS knock-offs of expensive designerwear. Due to fashion changing fast (lawsuits may take years) and being so hard to prove the copyright of a design, designers started their own affordable lines (diffusion) and collaborations (see H&M) in order to remain popular with the vast public.

fact - many big guns of fashion copy past designers or vintage clothing. None boycotts them and as long as they pay for advertising the fashion scene will praise them and promote them.

Bottomline: Is there a point in trying to spot who copied who in the end?


Lopi said...

Although you have a point - or several - in this post, I have to argue that THERE IS a point trying to found who copied who. And that is especially in cases where small, independent designers get ripped off from the big brands. It's totally immoral and infuriating when you see original designs on Etsy or on blogs, that appear magically a few months after in the selves of big retailers. I don't care if Zara gets "inspired" by a $3000 pair of Balmain jeans, but when Inditex rips off, say, illustrations, without compensating the graphic designers that created them, to use them as prints on their t-shirts, then I believe they should be prosecuted.

And, also read this example, where the "big name" who didn't play fair, was a famous model-turned-designer:

Clemmie and Melroy said...

excellent post, thank you

Alecca Rox said...

believe me, the designer behind the 3000$ Balmain jeans is as cheated as the etsy artist or unknown graphics designer in case of a rip off. Intellectual property is priceless in both cases even if the end product of the first costs a fortune.

Don't get me wrong, I totally agree with you and sympathise with young/not famous designers. However, a copycat is a copycat in both cases, whether it's big brand vs big brand or not.

Ri said...

Hello girls! Just my 2 cents:
I agree with lopi, there are rip offs and rip offs! There is a big difference between steeling the design of a girl from Etsi who tries to make a living out of making say skirts. She is not a trendsetter (yet) her name is not big so as to sell her design to Paris Hilton and the likes. She cannot beat the zara prices or pay a lawer. Of course steeling someones design is always immoral but Balmail will deal with the loss (financialy speaking) while the Etsi girl,the illustrator or the indiependent designer will not.
Apart from that I agree with your post, whether we like it or not this procedure is part of the fashion industry! Ideas cannot be kept secret, can they?

Alecca Rox said...

All opinions on this matter are well respected and important, the matter is so complexed and sensitive.

All I am saying is, whether you steal from a supermarket or a grocer, you are still a thief, even though the loss is more painful for the weaker end.

Also, imagine this: one day, the small designer becomes big and then what? Is it more acceptable to be ripped off or do the rip off?

Totally agree with Lopi and Ri though, it is always more infuriating to see young talent being exploited this way.

Ri said...

Why am i writing etsy with an i and stealing with double e? Beats me. My spelling went through a crisis! please excuse me!

By the way I like your swimming suit! I think that zig zag stripes are an upcoming trend i spotted some months ago. I believe, you can now after all these years, see it as homage to missoni and not as much as a copy. (just saying..)

Alecca Rox said...

@Ri True about that print! Thanks for bringing it up;)

Girl Next Blog said...

Such a great post!

GotSpot! said...

Really thought provoking post. Good job!