Have you ever walked into a fast fashion store and seen a piece of clothing that looks similar to a high-end designer piece? It's called copycat fashion and it is seemingly everywhere. It is a hotly debated subject in the industry, and people are divided as to whether it is right or wrong.
What is Copycat Fashion?
Copycat fashion is not to be confused with counterfeiting. Counterfeiting entails passing a fake off as the real deal. Case in point: knock-off Louis Vuitton bags. To the untrained eye they look like they are authentic, and it sometimes takes a trained professional to distinguish between real and fake. Copycat fashion, on the other hand, does not try to trick the consumer. It borrows a designer silhouette and creates a similar look using less costly materials. An example of this is a fast fashion retailer who recreates a Marc Jacobs or Chanel jacket that was seen on the runway, and sells it for $40.
Is Copycat Fashion Right?
Many pundits say that copycat fashion drives the system and spurs high-end designers to create something new. They claim that runway fashion is adopted by a wealthy customer base first, and that it trickles down into more affordable markets later on as fast fashion retailers copy it. They argue that this repetitious cycle prompts high-end designers to keep creating new and original designs to stay ahead of the curve.
How is Copycat Fashion Wrong?
Other industry insiders point to the fact that social media has been a game changer and that high-end designers’ customers are no longer the first ones to wear new designs. They argue that fast fashion retailers can copy high end designers very quickly, before it has time to go into production. Some fashion designers point to the fact that they shoulder an enormous burden when keeping up with this impossible cycle. They point to the fact that no other area of design is forced to churn out new ideas at such a rapid pace.
Our stance is that copycat fashion is unavoidable. It has been happening for centuries now, and will never cease. However, we feel there needs to be a support system for emerging or smaller designer labels to protect them from the profit losses that result from copying. One way to protect our creative visionaries is to have stronger fashion copyright laws. As of now there are few US laws to protect fashion designs from being copied. Europe, particularly France, has stronger laws in place to protect fashion designers. The idea that small, less profitable design houses have to pay enormous legal fees to protect their designs is horrible. Creativity needs to be protected. Fast fashion retailers who copy lesser-known designers often report gross revenues in the billions. Smaller designers on the other hand, may only report gross revenues in the millions, which pales in comparison. The idea that large corporations piggy back off of the creative ideas of smaller designers is unconscionable.
What do you think? Should there be more regulations to protect small designers from copycats?