Friday, March 19, 2010
Anything you can do, I can do better: Issues of Copyright in Fashion
Fashion rarely reinvents the wheel. More often than not you can trace the origins of certain sartorial choices to historical periods, cultural overtures, or even a particular designer of the past. It is a bit of an Ouroboros by nature, but lately it has transgressed the boundary of referential good taste.
Fashionista has been keeping tabs on this in their Adventures in Copyright Series. Just take a look below and you will see exactly what I am talking about.
It is not a new phenomena exactly as it has been endemic in some form to fashion retail in America for quite some time.
"Couture houses sold their patterns to American department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue in New York or I. Magnin in San Francisco for one-year reproduction rights...It wouldn't be a a Paris creation per se, but pretty close...Middle market garment manufactures would pay a fee in 1957, it was $2,000--plus royalties to Dior to incorporate elements of Dior's design into dresses and suits that retailed for $50 or $60 in the United States".
-- Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas
The only difference between this situation and the current state of affairs in fashion is lack of due credit. I think it evolved as such because consumers simply do not care about the lineage of the products they purchase. Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster examines this disconnect in luxury retail, but I cannot comment definitively on it as I have yet to finish it. From what I have read so far, it seems mass production of luxury is responsible for dulling the senses of consumers to the finer qualities of design. Thus devaluing its importance in the eyes of consumers and creating the widespread belief that superficial similarity is "good enough".
I cannot say that I have not fed into the system myself as I have been known to pour over "get the look" pages in magazines from time to time. There is, however, a big difference from taking inspiration from the runway and blatantly ripping off a designer. Capsule collections are probably the best solution for consumers that are hungry for luxury trends. It creates a market for those more apt to opt for the knockoffs that litter canal street to purchase "true" designer goods at an affordable price. It also ensures that the designers the recognition and control over the final design they deserve. Win - win right?
The other option for consumers who are low on cash is to support indie designers. The goods do not have the price inflation of high end designer garb, the cookie cutter look of luxury brands, nor lapses in production values that occur sometimes in haute products. I mean how can you go wrong?
Thoughts on it? Leave it the comments.