These days, is it really possibly to own an idea?
In the world of fashion, which is so visually driven, discussing intellectual property theft and copying in fashion can lead to murky waters.
And in the past 12 months alone, Gucci have been accused of stealing:
With that in mind, is it totally fair that Gucci has not only been one of the most hyped brands of the year but also saw a significant boost in revenue and profits?
Let’s face it, idea stealing in the world of fashion just isn’t a new concept.
But access to decades of online archives has allowed us to blast the copycat culture and hold idea-theives accountable.
But who’s actually calling these designer labels out?
Instagram account Diet Prada is, as they are the online authority on who’s ripping off who.
The account was created on Instagram back in 2014 as anonymous and ever since they have publicized any instance of fashion plagiarism by placing originals on the left and the accused on the right.
And in an interview with High Snob Society, Diet Prada described themselves as:
“We like to think of ourselves as the love child of Tim Blanks and Cathy Horyn. Fashion critique runs in our blood. Together, we’ve worked within the fashion industry in several different capacities, so our scope of view is pretty wide.”
So what sparked or the interest in starting the Instagram account that currently holds 68k+ followers? Diet Prada mentions:
“We were working together at one point and in our research, kept seeing copies over and over again. We would do these live roasts of collections and thought it was lol enough to put online.”
And when it comes to deciding what is theft and what is actually “inspiration”, Diet Prada notes:
“When it’s from a place of love (and credited) its inspiration. If you’re trying to keep the reference quiet and cash in off of someone else’s proven success, then you’re into theft territory. Case in point: the J.W. Anderson Pierce bag detail that he ripped from Hermes.”
But for those who are thinking “It’s hard to be original these days. Everything has been thought of.” Diet Prada says:
“A combination of just far too much information available combined with the volatile tides of retail. Nobody is taking a chance on unproven ideas. It can be hard to sit down and force yourself to design from scratch or a concept without pulling references from other brands but it can totally be done!”
Diet Prada has also called Virgil Abloh a luxury knock-off business and also decided to further elaborate on that statement by adding:
“We call it luxury knock-offs because he presented a pretty dramatic shift in aesthetics this past season. He’s created an undeniably powerful image, but there’s often a big disconnect when you see the general public wearing it. Every designer has to grow up at some point. Some dig deep to find something unique and some just turn to something that’s been done before. In referencing some of the masters like Margiela and Lang (an influence can’t be denied right now), Virgil’s designs fall a bit flat as he doesn’t have the same intellect. It’s all coming from a totally different place. Margiela said things with his designs, Virgil “says things”. There’s also a homogenization in design right now because everyone is looking at the same designers.”
And when asked about if copying in fashion in inevitable, Diet Prada notes:
“Copying is definitely inevitable but it doesn’t mean consumers have to give into it. 90% of the people shopping at Zara probably don’t even know they’re buying a knockoff. When good designs are rendered in cruddy materials they cease to be a good design anyway. We choose not to focus on fast fashion chains like Zara and H&M, because knockoffs are their business model…there’s nothing surprising or interesting when you find their copies. It’s when other luxury or high-end brands pretend to have an identity or point of view, but are really just piggybacking on someone else’s aesthetics.
The copycat culprits also change with seasonal or macro trends. Often when a new wave ushers in, the “me too” brands grapple to find a strand in their DNA that aligns with the current movement and then basically become them. You saw this when Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted the new Valentino, Phoebe Philo at Celine, and you’ve been seeing it for a while now with Vetements and Gucci.”