Copycat clothing: what it really means for independent designers
(Article originally posted on Wild Thing)
Picture from Hypebeast
Have you ever been to a fast-fashion retailer and found similar (copycat) clothing to designs from your favourite independent brands? Well, that’s no coincidence nor accident.
Fast-fashion retailers are continuously relying on consumers not caring if ‘inspiration’ has been taken from smaller brands, and are outright swindling designs from companies that aren’t large enough to be able to fight back.
Sadly, we live in a world where profit makes the world go round and this leaves independent brands vulnerable to larger companies stealing designs. Fast-fashion retailers are notorious for this – it’s not the first we’re hearing of it and it needs to stop. Stealing a design (or designs) from smaller companies who have worked their asses off to create their own image, brand and style is not only wrong, it’s criminal. Should we really care if a designer’s ideas have been robbed? Of course we should. The reason being that at the end of the day, it’s not just their designs being poached. Ultimately their livelihoods that have been swiped. Fashion companies, who are too lazy to find their own inspiration, are violating endless days of hard work and grafting.
One of the most infamous companies in the market known for creating copycats is Chinese retailer Alibaba. Profiting from the sale of knock-offs, Alibaba have stated that copycat goods are of better quality than the originals. Um okay then… The company was even suspended from the International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition over fears it was profiting from selling stolen designs. But how do you stop such an enormous company from continuing to sell knock-offs? Some fear that there is no real solution when dealing with companies of such economic significance – their input into the economy is simply too great to be halted. Many brands, such as Kering, have resorted to filing lawsuits in hope that their creative process will be recognised and justice will be served.
Most recently in the press, luxury label Gucci have been accused of copying not one, but two different designer’s ideas. Two graphic designers have claimed that the Italian fashion house stole their logos for its recent Cruise 2018 collection. Artist Stuart Smythe stated that Gucci had copied a design of his from 2014. He recently posted on Instagram that Gucci “has copied not only the combination of elements together that create this logo, but when I overlay my snake illustration on top of the copy, the scales even line up perfectly.” Below is a comparison of the two designs (original is on the left). What do you think?
Picture from Hypebeast
At the end of day, it’s not only taking legal action that will serve justice. More and more companies are posting pictures of the original design and copycats side by side, allowing the copycat brands to be shamed publicly on social media. This then damages the company’s image and integrity. It may not be the same as having the counterfeit designs recalled, but it must be worth something to the designer. Worth something to know that consumers are ultimately standing up for what’s right and standing by original ideas.