Déjà Shoe

De­sign­ers and re­tail­ers are due for a day in court over copy­cat­ting—but where does that leave us shop­pers, asks Kerry Pot­ter

Cosmopolitan (India) - - STYLE -

In a re­cent sur­vey, 75% of women ad­mit­ted they'd know­ingly pur­chased a coun­ter­feit de­signer item”

They say that imi­ta­tion is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery, but the world's elite fash­ion houses are none too pleased with the im­i­ta­tions of their wares that depart­ment stores favour. In a re­cent sur­vey, 75 per­cent of women ad­mit­ted they'd know­ingly pur­chased a coun­ter­feit de­signer item—and more than half said they were aware it was a knock-off. In­dian stores ap­pear to largely fly un­der the radar for copy­ing, but it's clear from the num­ber of, um, 'in­spired by Tory Burch" bal­le­rina flats for sale that imi­ta­tion is in full swing. Over­seas, how­ever, a num­ber of stores aren't so lucky—For­ever 21 is be­ing sued by 50 dif­fer­ent fash­ion houses for copy­ing de­signs. "A decade ago there was a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween de­sign­ers and the chains," says Louise Nash, a fash­ion lawyer who rep­re­sents la­bels who feel their de­signs have been copied. "Now, the knock-off cy­cle has sped up, due to de­sign­ers us­ing dig­i­tal me­dia to put their prod­uct out." Jew­ellery de­signer Rosie Wolfenden speaks from ex­pe­ri­ence: "So­cial me­dia has sped things up—it's so dif­fi­cult to keep any­thing un­der wraps. It's vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to stop peo­ple—edi­tors, blog­gers, trade show at­ten­dees—from tak­ing pic­tures of prod­ucts be­fore they come out."

Good copy, bad copy

Nash also points to the ad­vance­ment in tech­nol­ogy that al­lows copies to be cre­ated at light­ning speed. Now liti­gious de­sign­ers are us­ing new tech­nol­ogy them­selves to hit back at the im­i­ta­tors. As an ex­am­ple, Nash will give a pic­ture of an item a de­signer be­lieves is be­ing copied to her tech team, who will send 'ro­bot crawlers' around the In­ter­net to find il­licit copies for sale on var­i­ous sites across the world. As for the fu­ture, Nash be­lieves we will see more court cases. But we'll also see de­sign­ers striv­ing to create pieces that are harder to repli­cate— us­ing more lo­gos, for ex­am­ple, or more com­plex prints and mul­ti­lay­ered tech­niques.

Grab a col­lab

Hap­pily, some de­sign­ers and stores have shown they can be friends—and voilà, the rise of the col­lab­o­ra­tion. Re­cent big hit­ters in­clude Mary Ka­trant­zou at Topshop and Marni at H&M. There's also Topshop's line by Scot­tish de­signer Louise Gray, and H&M's col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mai­son Martin Margiela, be­sides the lo­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions (see box). Dif­fu­sion ranges also of­fer high end style for less—most of us couldn't stretch to the Marc Ja­cobs main line, but a hand­bag from Marc by Marc Ja­cobs isn't out of reach. And don't for­get vin­tage fash­ion as a way to add flair to your wardrobe. Not only can you buy de­signer items at a frac­tion of the cost, you'll be able to pick one-off pieces to ref­er­ence cat­walk trends without be­ing too lit­eral. So where does this leave us, the fash­ion-savvy who need to pay rent? The big de­sign­ers might not like the blur­ring of bound­aries be­tween high end re­tail chains, but shop­pers will al­ways love luxe for less.




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