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April 26

Whats New, Copycat?

By Oriana Kubinska


In some cases, imitation is the best form of flattery, in others - not so much.


In 2013 Versus Versace delivered a mildly dizzying homage to counterfeit goods by ‘bootlegging the bootleggers’. The same ethos has fuelled the rise of Vetements and a bootlegging trend, upheld by Balenciaga and Gucci alike.

A recent campaign by Diesel offered up a similar flavour of appropriation. The message is clear, established brands and designers have found respect and novelty in resourceful, make-shift fashion, alongside the need to translate it back into revenue. It even could be argued that black market knockoffs even promote the designs of global high fashion and streetwear brands - in unintentional symbiosis. As the greats would say, style cannot be bought, power to the back-street fakers.

But the game changes as we move from markets and back-streets, onto the high-street, up escalators, past billboards and into huge buildings filled with floors upon floors of low quality, overpriced goods under fluorescent lighting. Now we’re talking about small fish getting cooked for breakfast in huge corporate frying pans.

Fast fashion powerhouses, distinct from high fashion brands, rest their success upon the reproduction of lesser-known designer’s work; their business models depend on it, and due to sheer scale and visibility, they remain unaffected by the threat of bad press. Contrary to counterfeit goods, plastered with high-fashion brand names, these blatant replicas pay no tribute to make no mention of their original designers, nor do they provide compensation. Not even the bat of an eyelid.

As big high-street brands collect lawsuits like trophy hunters, smaller independent designers and creatives are the ones who suffer. For the small fish, legal action comes at a high and unforgiving cost, with little-to-no gain. While high-fashion brands have demonstrated remorse by taking swift remedial action, offering apologies and even pulling items from a collection, the high-street remains still and indifferent to the damage done to smaller designers. Truth be told, if these retailers were to respond by acknowledging their wrongs and removing said items…. they would be left with desolate inventories and empty shelves, cue the tumbleweed.

It’s unfair that these corporate bodies have such an upper hand. Though style cannot be bought, quality and craftsmanship come at price which should be fair to designer and maker. You can't put a price on style, but quality and craftsmanship come at a price; a price which reflects the cost of materials, expertise, and the ingenuity of designer and maker. Support smaller brands by buying directly from the source, and avoid the high-street altogether (unless to call them out on their plagiarism).

When you buy from the source, you’re buying into originality, meticulous attention to detail, quality materials, love and craftsmanship. Vote with your money. There ain’t nothing like the real thing baby.
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