A certain amount of copying is both accepted and expected in the fashion industry. Fashion magazines regularly feature snippets such as The Sunday Times’ ‘skinted or minted’ section, showcasing a designer original alongside the high street version inspired by it. No sooner have Chanel released a new cult nail colour than bloggers are singing the praises of affordable dupes. Fast fashion retailers like Nasty Gal and Forever 21 appear to base their entire business models on being ‘inspired’ by designers (read copied). But it’s not always the fast fashion retailers that are being inspired (read copying). Oh no, on a number of occasions, the big boys, the ones that should know better, have been caught out, crossing that thin line from inspiration to imitation. Wigs And Gowns look at five times big fashion houses have been caught copying, either from each other, or the little guy.
JW Anderson and J Crew (Image via Bryan Boy)
The softly spoken Irishman and darling of the fashion industry, JW Anderson, has barely been out of the press since he took the reigns at luxury label Loewe in 2013. LVMH took a stake in his eponymous label and Anderson has also released a book The Smell of Us, with Larry Clark of cult movie ‘Kids’ fame. But he wasn’t always in the news for the right reasons. In 2012 super star fashion blogger Bryan Boy discovered that he already owned the multi – coloured stripey sweater from Anderson’s A/W 2012 collection. Only he’d purchased it from a charity shop for £25 dollars (it originally came from J Crew.) Everything from the size of the stripes to the colour arrangement was identical. No explanation was ever given for the similarities but it certainly didn’t seem to harm Anderson’s career in any way. Though here at Wigs And Gowns we can’t even hear his name without thinking of Bryan and his J Crew sweater.
Versace & American Apparel
Just a couple of months ago, British artist Kesh named and shamed Versace on Instagram over copying and selling t-shirts bearing a remarkable similarity to t-shirts she designed for American Apparel just two years ago. The graphic black and white t-shirts were a huge hit when they retailed at £30 at American Apparel stores worldwide in 2013. Celebrity fans including Cara Delevigne and Jessie J regularly posted images of themselves wearing the designs on social media.
“It hurts” said Kesh “I have always had a deep admiration for Versace. It’s an iconic brand that has stood the test of time. I am deeply disappointed in this. This is not only artwork from a show that took me two years to develop and create. It is not only artwork from a collection that I created for American Apparel to provide something affordable and accessible to supporters of my work. But this is also my face! I can’t understand how something like this could happen.””
The artist is suing Versace. We’re guessing Versace will settle this one quickly!
Pheobe Philo & Geoffrey Beane
Back in 2013 when Pheobe Philo was at the helm of Celine, fashion zine Garmento noticed something about her fall collection that the rest of us had missed. The grey trapeze coat with knotted sleeves that the fashion press had fawned over was very much an identical copy of a 2004 Geoffrey Beane coat. Celine, rather wisely, decided not to comment (what could they possible have said in defense?) and the Geoffrey Beane foundation took the standard fashion industry response to copies, that is feigning flattery and stating that the ”coat recreated by Céline in 2013, was a signature piece of Mr. Beene’s and a representation of how timeless his pieces were.” Karl Lagerfeld allegedly weighed in claiming that he was shocked. Which is a bit rich giving his own less that perfect record when it comes to copying…
Chanel & Pamela Love
That’s right, Kaiser Karl was forced to change his collection when an eagle eyed blogger from The Fashion Law noticed something familiar about the crystal cuffs from Chanel’s crystalline fall 2012 show. They looked an awful lot like bracelets designed by New York jewellery designer Pamela Love. Although the French fashion powerhouse never admitted to any wrongdoing, it pulled the bracelets from its collection, stating ”It has been brought to our attention that some of the bracelets that appeared in the show may resemble those of another designer. Out of respect for the concerns raised and for the artistic process generally, the House has decided not to offer these bracelets for sale as part of the A/W 2012 collection.”
Diane Von Furstenberg & Mercy
She’s the current president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a proponent of legislation to extend copyright style protection to fashion designs. Diane Von Furstenberg also supported and helped found Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute. But the woman who gave the world the wrap dress has also been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. In 2009, design duo Jennifer Halchuk and Richard Lyle of Canadian label Mercy noticed a jacket from DVF’s 2009 Spring collection was surprisingly similar to their own Spring 2008 jacket. When the similarities were publicised, Diane von Furstenberg immediately issued a public apology and contacted Mercy to arrange a settlement. But then if you’d spent the previous few years championing the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA) only to be caught copying, you’d want it swept under the carpet pretty quickly too! The designer claimed to be devastated. Or was that devastated that she was caught?
So there you have it, the big fashion houses, and often the ones who make the biggest noise when they’ve been copied, can be just as guilty themselves. Have you seen any examples of luxury designer brands copying?