Originally posted 2010-05-26 12:48:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Miss Trials is was a new blog, or sub-blog or something (I can’t make heads or tails of the navigation) on a site called Halogen Life. [UPDATE: This is a semblance what is looked like at first; this is what that URL looks like now — the blog is long gone. — RDC (July 2016)] It was written by Kelly Taylor — “a reformed politico, fashion writer and aspiring lead counsel for a major house of style.”
That’s her aspiration, yet she’s blogging? Good luck with that! Well, the blog is gone, actually. But anyway, Kelly says said (the link is dead) that litigation is threatening to really rock the fashion business:
Not everyone in fashion supports a legal overhaul — designer Rick Owens has said he takes copycatting as a compliment. The industry, in part, thrives on knocking off garments. Unique, commercially successful designs do not come cheap. Top fashion designers can pull in millions a year for their work. One way lower market retailers keep costs down is by hiring cheaper design talent to simply translate the latest runway looks into marketable ready-to-wear pieces. Meryl Streep as Vogue editrix Anna Wintour — I mean — fictional Runway magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada broke it down best when she tracked the origin of her assistant’s frumpy sweater from Oscar de la Renta gowns to a Casual Corner clearance bin. Frequently, the inspiration is vague, like mimicking a trendy silhouette or color. The problems arise when the line between inspiration and duplication blur.
Artistic integrity isn’t the only factor in play — exclusivity is a crucial part of the luxury industry. Sartorial snobbery is rampant in many knock-off allegations. Some designers have gone so far as to say that they don’t want plebeians affording their highly-publicized pieces — they’re to be donned by the elite of the world, not, as Versace’s CEO put it, “young girls who can put the designer handbag of their dreams on their arm with less than 300 Euros.”
Is copying a piece down to the smallest detail morally wrong? Absolutely. Should those companies be sued? Probably. But the ramifications of opening the door to a litany of design infringement suits could put a serious damper on mass-market clothing chains. Taking high fashion trends and making them affordable and accessible is nothing new in the apparel industry. Nothing can prevent designers from taking to court to defend their work, but the industry as a whole might want to be wary about eating its young.
Arguing for long-term perspective as a damper on litigation? Good luck with that, too! Hat tip to @walterolson.