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Inspiration or Replica: Should Designers Copy Others?

Inspiration or Replica: Should Designers Copy Others?

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Picasso.

Photo: The Fashion Law

Fashion is an industry that thrives off inspiration. We mimick the world around us, we can’t help but be influenced by our surroundings. The design community allows us the ability to share ideas and feed off each other’s creativity.

“I don’t think inspiration is a bad thing, [but] imitation posing as inspiration is”, said Julie Zerbo.

Laws surrounding copyrights and trademarks are complex and sometimes even useless in the fashion industry. Designers don’t have the tools, particularly copyright laws, to guarantee that their designs aren’t copied. Most designers are copied by fast fashion retailers. With trends constantly changing and the way millennials shop, the threat to buy a copy than the original is greater. Brands such as Zara, Urban Outfitters, and Forever21 have all been accused more than once for stealing designs. A large amount of copying is legal in the U.S, however, we don’t see many lawsuits. The fashion industry is becoming a copycat economy where copying other’s work is a way to create top notch material.

There’s no innovation behind stitch by stitch copies and recreating exact looks thus creating problems within the fashion industry. Now with social media, accusations of copying are nonstop. Fashion designers and websites are not shy to call a “COPY”!

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery”, Coco Chanel.

Mistakes do happen, but if it’s consistent is that intentional? Independent artists are also being ripped off. Independent brands and bigger companies should find a way to partner than duplicate. In design, to steal is letting another’s work inspire you. Designers steal all the time without realizing it, they just know how to hide their sources.

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein


NastyGal vs Taylor Swift
Photo: The Fashion Law

Clearly, Nasty Gal’s Social Media Editor tried to pull a fast one. Sharing a photo of Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards with the caption “One piece wonder. Taylor Swift in the Nasty Gal Frisco Inferno Jumpsuit”. A brilliant marketing opportunity but another copy, especially since Swift was wearing Balmain.


Kanye West vs Everyone
Photo: The Fashion Law

A bit of copying found in the Yeezy collection for Adidas. But, was he just copying himself? Yeezy Season Two looked highly similar to that of Yeezy Season One.


Jeremy Scott vs Graphic Artist
Photo: The Fashion Law

Jeremy Scott, Creative Director to Moschino, was sued for copyright infringement. The “Vandal Eyes” mural by graffiti artist, RIME, was allegedly copied by Scott. Spray painted on top of the painting were the brand names Moschino and Jeremy Scott.


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