When we browse through the rails of our favourite high street retailers the recognition of certain styles and patterns is not an uncommon thought. Regardless of whether you have never laid eyes on their new season’s collection nor stepped foot in the store before, that nagging recollection of design imprinted in your mind cannot be ignored. And then you remember, a flash of genius inspires your memory to recall that almost identical garment strutting down the Luella runway only a few weeks previous.
I have often wondered how mass produced rip off’s off limited edition designer-wear are still allowed, after all downloading music for free is illegal. The difference is fashion has no copyright protection, which consequently allows anyone to take an idea they have seen elsewhere and stick their name on it regardless of whether any alteration have been made or style adjusted. Dianne Von Furstenberg is the head of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and has been actively trying to achieve copyright protection for fashion designs, a notion continuously denied by retailers, and the reason stems from fashion houses themselves.
Fashion is an innovative industry that stays afloat by praying on style conscious individuals, consequently trends are continuously moving forward and evolving, and to generate a trend more than one designer must be channelling the same theme, style or texture for recognition to be achieved. You see designers steal ides off of each other, either from past collations or present showcases, they just use their own creative flair to adjust the original inspiration and avoid detection, after all the foundations of fashion are set in stone, can anyone really own a skirt or a jacket? The only factor which differentiates high-end retailers from affordable everyday sellers like H&M is that the high street looks to copy the styles seen on the runway while the designers look to develop them into their own creations for the approaching season.
‘Tom Ford’ stated after simple research that the reason the fashion industry continues to flourish regardless of the limited protection available is because each sector within caters for a different demographic. Now I’m unsure of just how basic this research was but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the same individual who is willing to pay over the odds for a signature Chanel handbag is not likely to buy a £50 look-a-like from Topshop regardless the similarities. And that is why the industry works so well, the different levels of society create the different levels of the fashion food chain, the people who can afford the likes of Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Galliano will always pay to own the label in order to keep up with their social network, the rest of us will carry on appreciating the work and beauty of the garments we would ordinarily have to sell an arm and a leg to afford whilst shopping the trends generated from the catwalks on the high street.