Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HAS THE HIGH STREET COPYING OF CATWALK DESIGNERS WORK GOT OUT OF HAND?

Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

The latest press release email from Red Hot PR, representing Goddiva

Yesterday, a press release email pinged into the Fashion Editor at Large in-box. Its title? 'Gucci Copies.' Amazingly, the fashion company in question, Goddiva, has instructed its PR company to send out press releases promoting the fact it is copying dresses from the current Gucci collection; dresses that are in the shop right now. Goddiva even shares with us the catwalk shots of the dresses they are copying in the release!  Goddiva would do well to read up on how litigious Gucci is. Only this week it was awarded $4.7 million from Guess over infringement of its G and red/green stripe trademarks, and it is stepping up its brand protection around the world as a result.

This type of email - and I get a lot of them - makes my blood boil. Bethan, Fashion Junior at Large, has even seen me pick up the phone to some PR companies to question them for the sending out of such emails. I know it sounds a bit batty, but really - they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. It especially annoys me when the copying involves ripping-off young British and international designers who don't have the funds to hire a lawyer to defend their Intellectual Property rights.

What you see above is a blatant example of how rampant the copying of fashion designers work at high street level has become. Crazier still the brands doing it actually promote the fact. Copying is against the law. Fashion designers and brands can - and do as we see from Gucci's case this week- successfully sue for this kind of thing. Elsewhere on the high street designers' original work is being tacitly raped and pillaged and passed off as the work of the retailer - and to my mind it is getting worse by the week.

I do understand that the high street takes inspiration from catwalk and street trends for their fashion offerings, its the nature of the beast; everyone from Marc Jacobs to Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga takes inspiration from something, but really it has gone too far. Which is why I am glad the young law American law student Julie Zerbo of the fashion blog Fashion Law, which was recently covered by the Wall Street Journal, is succeeding in highlighting the problem. A few weeks ago Zerbo brought to attention a Chanel bangle, which looked very similar to one already on the record as being by young NYC based jeweller Pamela Love. After her post was picked up by Fashionista.com, Chanel withdrew the bracelet with immediate effect. It was an elegant way around a problem senior designers at Chanel  probably didn't even know they had. Chanel prides itself on originality.

Last week a friend of mine who is also an editor sent me a couple of Blackberry-Cam shots of items that looked very familiar...

Seen at Karen Millen

Have you met your twin? Erdem Resort 2012 on Net-a-Porter. In fact if you type "Erdem blue lace dress" into Google, the third thing that comes up is "Erdem blue lace dress copy" and the listing takes you to Kate Middleton related sites..

Seen at Marks and Spencer

Hmm..looks familiar. Jonathan Saunders SS12 collection (photo: Catwalking.com)



Have you seen any blatant copies out there? What do you think?


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