Friday 3 September 2010

Friend Friday: Copying in the Fashion Industry

Ok, so here's another Friend Friday post curtesy of Katy Rose at Modly Chic.

This week we are discussing Copycat designer items. A topic I think a few of us have discussed on our blog in the past. I believe the whole MiuMiu print sparked it off this year. Anyway here are my answers to Katy Rose's questions. You can check out everyone else here.

Ok so first of all I should say I don't buy designer (mainly because I can't afford it) and I don't really buy copycat as I don't like stuff emblazoned with logos (which is what most copycat items are)

1. Which side do you take… Copycat designs are a way for the average consumer to stay current and wear runway styles without breaking the bank OR Copycat designs take business from the designer and cheapen the value of their work. Explain.

Well I am in the second camp, I don't usually agree with copycat items as it is just like stealing someones work and making money of it. If this was music or literature people wouldn't get away with it, without having to pay some sort of compensation.

That said I think copycat items come in 3 forms. Ok so bear with me:

1. Total exact replicas of a runway item, this is totally wrong as far as I am concerned and is taking business away from the designers by affectively stealing their idea and passing it off as your own. Designing and producing an item of clothing for many designers takes lots of time, energy and work. They spend ages working on their line, establishing and expanding their idea into that perfect item of clothing. Which is so desired that people are willing to rip it off and produce much less well made replicas. This most definitely does cheapen the value of their work as it makes it readily available.

2. Designer accessories, this I have less of a problem with. I know this sounds odd but designer accessories such as LV bags and D&G glasses are only one tiny area for a designer label and no real skill goes into designing and producing them. I know that might be harsh but LV and such bags are churned out so frequently simply by stamping their little logo on any item. People will always buy knockoffs of this sort. And it hasn't really cheapened the real items as people always know about this type of knockoff.

3. I call this Idea Evolution or the filtering down of designer items. This is the natural way the fashion industry should work. But sadly there is a very thin line between this and exact replicas. Runway designs are filtered down and evolved into highstreet designs. This means highstreet designers will use catwalk styles to inspire their new lines. Taking a similar print, silhouette or fabric to lead their new lines. This is normal and natural the problem is where to draw the line. I own a tank top from primark that has an almost exact print as the MiuMiu swallow print but MiuMiu never printed it onto a simple basic tank so it isn't an exact copycat. But what if the shirt had been the same style as the MiuMiu ones but just in a cotton rather than silk, this is why the line is so thin.

(I apologise for the massive amount of writing in that 1 question but it's how I understand copycat designs and makes the rest of my answers a bit more logical)

2. Sometimes we do things, even if they are unethical or illegal (downloading music for free, watching full movies on YouTube). Do you think it is unethical for a designer to copy a vintage piece, make it current and sell it?

Short answer no. I don't think there is much that can be done in fashion these days that has not already been done (in some form) in the past. It is again the natural progression of fashion, that designers are inspired by items from the past to create new lines. As long as they are changing the garment in some way there is nothing unethical about it. Simply buying a vintage piece and selling it as your own without any alterations (not just fixing or shortening etc it) that would be unethical. I would even admire a designer who restyled vintage pieces as they are recycling the fabric and doing something good for our environment.

3. Would you buy an items that is a very well done copy of a runway garment if it fell within your budget?

I would like to say no, but it would totally depend on the item I think (and the price). At the moment there is nothing in particular that I would be interested in buying as a designer knockoff. It would have to be something very special indeed or very unique. Something like a replica of a vintage Chanel suit, but then that is not stealing from the designers as it is a vintage item that they will no longer be producing or making money from.

4. According to the fashion laws, at least in the US, apparel design is seen as too utilitarian to qualify for copyright protection. Would you think this is detrimental to the industry or beneficial.

I believe it is beneficial. Fashion would become very difficult to evolve or design if copyright protection was granted to designers. What exactly would a designer be granted copyrights for? As I have said before almost everything in fashion has been done before (in some way). That would have to mean that someone like Mary Quant would have owned the rights to the miniskirt and no-one would be able to design a skirt in a similar way without paying for the privilege. It would all get very confusing and difficult. What should be copyright protected are labels and logos (most of which are). This means anyone using a label or logo on an item to pass it off as a replica should be sued and often do!

5. Own up… share the things in your closet that is a knock off. You know those things you got in China Town, on the streets of New York, or where ever.

As I have said I don't really buy designer or knock off so after a good hunt in my closet I think I only have 3 items. All bags! lol. And all were bought in the knowledge that they are knockoffs. Only 1 is good as far as I am concerned. I own 2 Chanel bags and 1 very old LV one I bought in my teens whilst on holiday. The LV and 1 Chanel have broken so showed how shoddy the quality was on them. My Chanel baguette on the other hand is beautiful and perfect and was incredibly cheap! lol. It was important from China to Canada although the owner of the place where I bought it said it came from actual manufacturers of the designer line. So either it fell off the back of a lorry, it is a factory second (I'm hoping on this, lol) or it is simply a replica. Either way I don't really car. I didn't buy it because of the label (although I would like to own a Chanel bag) I bought it because I liked the bag itself. I would have bought it at that price even without the Chanel logo/label. But that's all I've got I think.

So there you have it another Friend Friday post, what are your thought on this topic.

Daisymay X

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  1. Personally i dont care about copycat stuff because I feel if anyone wears copycat goods its because they can't afford the real thing anyway. I dont think it makes the real thing cheaper but instead makes it more valuable. Because when someone does have something thats real designer its quality and cost a bank load, you know it. And it creates this envy and respect for the line. I do think its wrong to steal someones work but to be honest the designers should be flattered and know that their clientele aren't going to by copycat stuff anyway. For example. I grew up in a private school in a 'uppity' neighborhood. If someone found out you were wearings something from target or walmart it was a big deal. Like wat a looser what is she wearing. So it made everyone work harder to shop at EXPRESS or BEBE. Every now and then someone would try to get something by but generally speaking the community would shun it. (its gay considering its just clothes but tis the life i grew up in) Every year before school started the mothers would go max out their credit cards buying their kids knew cloths and crap they didn't need which was ironic considering we wore uniform. And every season the wardrobe had to be changed. I was a rebel, I liked to go barefoot and wear the same sundress over and over so my mum used to throw my clothes away when i was out so I couldn't keep the things i wanted to wear. Iono. I just think that copycat stuff isn't a big deal. If your buying copycat stuff its because u can't afford the real thing. and if you can't afford the real thing it makes the real thing more special. like the chocolate chip cookies ur mum wont let u have until after dinner.

    iono just a thought


  2. wow those questions made me think, and i actually agree with pretty much everything you said. the only one i wouldn't be able to answer is the last one because i don't own any designer knock-offs; i guess it's because most of what i have is either so basic and simple, or it's vintage!

  3. i used to get knock off handbags all the time when i lived in chicago - but they just didn't hold up. so i'd rather spend a little more & get a good bag that will hold up, even if it isn't a so-called designer bag. i'm the same way about shoes. i refuse to but $10 shoes that will only give me blisters and last a day.

    while it's okay to be inspired by designer pieces - i think it's wrong to make copies. the tough part, though, is where to draw the line.

  4. I've become very aware of copycat designs in shops lately, and to be honest, it's really been bothering me. I think pure, exact copies are the equivalent of stealing someone's design, and I avoid buying them.
    I understand drawing inspiration from runways and designers, since that is how all fashion works. I'm all for affordable pieces with the same basic style or feel of designer pieces, but obvious rip-offs are just obnoxious and uncreative.

  5. That's a really interesting post. Great answers. I usually get items that are inspired by the trends but not outright coping the designs seen on the catwalk.

    I used to get fake handbags back in the day but they were never good quality anyway so I just buy bags I like.

  6. This is interesting stuff. It would be crazy if all designers were granted copyrights. Where would it ever and, and how would something new ever begin? I'm by no means a designer junkee, certainly not for anything expensive. But I do think that knockoffs are just kinda cheesy. I would rather stick to non-name brand or vintage items than try to get a fake designer anything.

    Where I live, some guy copyrighted the name Torres del Paine and started threatening anybody that used that name (which is a local national park in Patagonia) on any piece of clothing. It was pretty ridiculous, because the brands were so different, and owning the rights to write that name on something so touristic is just crazy... Ok, that's my little rant.

    Hope you are enjoying a great weekend!

  7. I agree that nothing is truly new anymore, we are all copying someone, and occasionally ourselves.

    While I don't usually buy knockoffs in the knowledge that it is one -- I usually assume that it is one version or another of something off the runways. It's unavoidable.

    And I don't think it's wrong, designers aren't lossing any customers (people buying knockoffs aren't their customers) and us poor people get to partake in the trends. I also like to make my own knockoffs -- I like to sew and make jewelry, so why not get inspiration there?


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