Video: An Expose on Fashion's Free Culture
3 July 2010

Video: An Expose on Fashion’s Free Culture

I’d like to highlight what Johanna Blakeley says about fashion – that it revolves around a culture of copying which results in trends of the season. Simply put, because designers are doing the same thing for example, stripes this Spring, it has translated into the trend – a trend is a recurrent theme either in terms of the style/details/prints that have become so ubiquitous, whether on the runways or in the stores. At this point, it is crucial that I state that Blakeley isn’t at all commenting on designer replicas or knock-offs.


Another point that she raises in the video is that because there aren’t any copyright or Intellectual Property laws against fashion and its designs, high street stores like Forever 21, Topshop, H&M and Zara are having a field day and cashing in on designer inspired pieces.


Let me illustrate this with a case in point – a true story that happened to a friend of a friend. A friend’s girlfriend, was visiting her boyfriend’s aunt, who happened to either be one of the designers or the owner of home-grown Malaysian mass market high-street shoe company, Vincci. Coincidentally, she was wearing a pair of Celine shoes that she had just purchased a couple of days ago. Her boyfriend’s aunt noticed this, and asked if she could borrow her shoes for a day or two. Cornered, she agreed. I mean, how does one say no to your boyfriend’s aunt, especially if you want to make a good impression? And horror of horrors, approximately 2 weeks later, what looked like an exact replica of her shoes (minus the “Celine” stamp, which has been substituted with the Vincci label), were spotted in Vincci stores nationwide. Boy, was she furious.


But yes, what else could she expect from a high-street shoe store that replicates designer shoes and bags? What more, with Vincci+ a supposedly higher-end version and better quality version of Vincci, that continues to operate by replicating designer shoes and leather goods. In fact, SAs from designer boutiques at KLCC (I shall not reveal which stores these are) have told me that Vincci staffers have been seen armed with sketch pads, sketching the latest collections at the boutiques. Yet another designer boutique has complained about Vincci staffers, coming in groups of 4 or 5 – some distract the SAs while the other Vincci staffers snap photos of the latest designer collections with their camera phones. And there is nothing that the SAs can do about it, due to the loophole in anti-copyright laws in the fashion industry.