The Tragic Com­edy

The In this is­sue, renowned fash­ion critic and en­tre­pre­neur Kanika Bha­tia takes on the topic of orig­i­nal­ity. A lot of us might be age­ing in ex­pe­ri­ence but we still refuse to ad­mit that ‘smart copy­ing’ is pla­gia­rism nev­er­the­less, she writes.

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They say there is no orig­i­nal­ity in tyrants and de­sign­ers of to­day. True, but how bad is the sit­u­a­tion re­ally?

Coun­ter­feit­ing prod­ucts be­ing the or­der of the day, it’s only a mat­ter of time when all we are com­pet­ing on is price, per­fect mar­ket­place of orig­i­nal eco­nom­ics af­ter all. Im­i­ta­tion might be the high­est form of ap­pre­ci­a­tion but I hate to win­dow shop on a good day, play­ing the ‘who copied it best’ game. For years, the thumb rule in­volved, break­through fash­ion cre­ated by de­sign­ers, copied badly here and there by smaller ven­dors, and ev­ery­one gets a piece of the cake. Cur­rent sce­nario, how­ever, has lim­ited orig­i­nal­ity to a rel­a­tively smaller per­cent­age of de­sign­ers, con­sid­er­ing ev­ery third per­son in met­ro­pol­i­tans is a ‘de­signer’ of sort and ex­clu­siv­ity wav­ing back at us as it moves down the drain.

When I started Anome, the lack of con­fi­dence in de­sign process did lead me to take ‘in­spi­ra­tion’ from Pin­ter­est (Mecca of coun­ter­feit­ing) for a cou­ple of pieces in my col­lec­tion. Hav­ing grad­u­ated in the process, mind and cre­ativ­ity af­ter my first col­lec­tion, I have gladly reached the sweet spot of orig­i­nal­ity. Now, I can safely sit in my cor­ner, sip that cof­fee and judge away the world, as I take the higher path. How­ever, a lot of us might be age­ing in ex­pe­ri­ence but we still refuse to ad­mit that ‘smart copy­ing’ is pla­gia­rism nev­er­the­less.

I would per­son­ally like to thank so­cial me­dia ac­counts like Di­et­bysabya for call­ing out on such dirty jobs of bona fide fash­ion be­ing ru­ined by the big­gest of names in the in­dus­try. If noth­ing, at least it’s kept some of them on a tight leash and oh boy, do we en­joy the show!

With ap­parel be­ing the easy tar­get, shoe in­dus­try seems to blame it on lim­ited sur­face area to ex­per­i­ment. Es­pe­cially in the case of men’s wear, it be­comes a bat­tle of qual­ity over de­sign con­sid­er­ing there is only so much you can do in so lit­tle an area. Well, here we sadly agree. How­ever, there is al­ways the tech­nol­ogy, raw ma­te­rial and mar­ket­ing you can fight for. As a part of both the in­dus­tries, and hav­ing looked at them very closely, I un­der­stand how it’s im­pos­si­ble to not look at your work like a col­league, as some­one who is agree­able and de­cides to col­lab­o­rate on some days but un­yield­ing like a grouchy tod­dler on some. Those days are the ones you yield to these mea­sures, but the idea should be to keep tap­ping that cre­ativ­ity till you get it right.

With the ob­sti­nacy of a rot­tweiler, we have re­fused to ad­dress this is­sue in the open, sim­ply be­cause ev­ery­one does it, and that makes it okay. How­ever, it’s time to hold the thin edge of the wedge. We need a mix so­lu­tion of slow fash­ion, mark­ing the guilty and a con­scious ef­fort by pa­trons to call this one out. Till then, let me leave you with a flip thought- Do you think de­sign­ers are forced to do this to feed the dis­count hun­gry mar­ket that re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge cre­ativ­ity with a pur­chase and only seeks out the cheap­est price for the best in the mar­ket?

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