Imagine if you could re-record a Beatles song, without any law approval or request. Or even plagiarize an entire JK Rolling book and fill the pockets with 100% of the profit of the sales. Well, that place exists, and just like Narnia, and it is inside your wardrobe. Welcome to the fantastic world of fashion, where imitating the other is cool.
The fashion industry is like that, with very little protection of intellectual property.
This freedom exists for a single reason: clothing is considered to be very functional materials to be registered. Well if we had such a law, we could only buy jeans from Levi’s (created for California miners), trench coats from Burberry (created in 1901, for the British Army), and black dresses from Chanel (created in 1920).
Some countries even tried to institute legal protections for clothing, but the laws had little effect. In Japan, for example, a fashion designer has the right to trademark a drawing/design, but for this, he must prove and go through a very long and bureaucracy process- which is very exhausting.
In Europe: any creation can be recorded. But it does not have much use, because any insignificant change – a shorter bar, for example – already counts as a new, recordable model.
In the US, there is no law that defends fashion ownership. That did not stop the American chain Forever 21 being processed repeatedly for being too “inspired” in other collections.
But despite the explosion of copies, the luxury brands have a reason not to panic, according to Tom Ford: “Those who buy the copies are not the same people who buy the original clothes, it’s as simple as that,”
Acne’s shearling jacket (left) retails for $2,700, while Zara’s copy (right) costs $149.Acne & Zara
Courtesy of: ACNE and ZARA website