Crimes of Fashion

Original Article from Ethical Style

Last Valentine’s Day, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rayburn office building was the venue for an unusual hearing. Famous designers, fashion executives, and well-styled attorneys talked among themselves while waiting for legislators to return from a vote. Someone described the room as “a strange cocktail party without drinks.”

Capitol Hill isn’t known as a place for fashion-related affairs. Slowly but surely, though, times have changed. Once considered too frivolous a problem for the United States Congress, fashion design theft has finally been brought to the table in the form of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, or DPPA.

The intellectual property issue has been a pressing one in the fashion industry for many years. However, the lack of legal rights for designers has left them to rely on their own means — and the minimal protection of trademark and patent law — to defend their work against fashion copycats.

Many garment vendors and journalists have credited these loose laws with continued creative innovation and the success of the American mass market. Some have even theorized that the nature of fashion and trends is inconsistent with the notion of a truly “original” clothing design. As one uncompromising San Francisco Chronicle editorial put it, “Is it really realistic to believe that there are really, truly, no designs being invented now that haven’t been created before?”

The answer is a resounding “yes” if you ask ready-to-wear designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Nicole Miller, Zac Posen, and Narciso Rodriguez. They, with a gaggle of other industry supporters, have been pushing hard for the DPPA through the Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA), a trade association.

The granting of more intellectual property rights to films, television, and music in the digital age has left CFDA supporters — such as Harper’s Bazaar, which runs the “Fakes Are Never In Fashion” campaign — demanding equal treatment for designers. Just as those industries have suffered as idea thieves have become more tech-saavy, they argue, so has fashion.  [more]

While historically, catwalk copycats sent spies and sketch artists to Fashion Weeks, today design thieves can easily access breakthrough designs on the internet within hours of a runway show. As a result, say fashion designers like Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Von Furstenburg, the original creators are unable to collect a return on their investments.

Mr. Rodriguez has essentially become the poster child for the pro-DPPA lobby. Back in February, he testified before the subcommittee members as the CFDA’s star witness. For himself, he explained, the defining moment came in 1996, when the gown he designed for Carolyn Bessette’s wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. became an international hit. But his design was replicated and sold long before he could get his own gowns in the stores. Copycats, claims the designer, sold between 7 and 8 million knockoffs that season; Mr. Rodriguez sold 40.

The lost profits, as Rodriguez explained to the subcommittee, were immense. Taking into account the costs of producing runway shows, purchasing fabric for samples, pattern and development costs, travel, and marketing, Rodriguez says it can cost nearly $6-million to produce a 250-piece fall and spring collection. With advancements in garment production (”fast fashion”) and communication, those costs aren’t getting any easier for designers to recover.

As the law currently stands, only counterfeit goods that replicate a trademarked logo or original print or other artwork are protected by the current U.S. regulations. Because of this loophole, a design’s silhouette, color, and other details may be copied and sold legally so long as they are sans logo. If passed, the DPPA would enable designers to register their creations for three years of legal copyright protection. Similar laws already exist in Europe, India, and Japan.

But at least until the next Congress convenes, the DPPA remains in subcommittee limbo. Its death in committee has been attributed to an impasse in negotiations between the CFDA and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA). But the bill has generated plenty of opposition from industry outsiders as well.

Related posts:

Could Your Hairspray and Makeup Increase Your Risk of Diabetes?
(Video) Make Your Own Apron via @Stitchless_TV
(Video) Sexy Vampire DIY Halloween Makeup Tutorial


  • It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you just shared
    this useful information with us. Please keep us informed like
    this. Thanks for sharing.

  • It’s amazing in favor of me to have a site, which
    is beneficial in favor of my know-how. thanks admin

  • Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS.
    I don’t know the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS
    issues? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond?

  • Thanks on your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you are a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and
    will come back very soon. I want to encourage you to continue your great job,
    have a nice day!

  • Truly when someone doesn’t know then its up to other viewers that they will help, so here it takes place.

  • Pretty portion of content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital
    to assert that I get actually loved account your blog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds or even I fulfillment
    you access constantly quickly.

  • I am extremely impressed with your writing skills
    and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a
    paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up
    the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

  • 1. Thanks for the great post keep up the amazing work.

  • Hi there, simply changed into aware of your weblog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful when you proceed this in future. Lots of folks will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • You should participate in a contest for among the finest blogs on the web. I will advocate this web site!

  • What’s up to every , as I am truly eager of reading this blog’s post to
    be updated regularly. It includes pleasant data.
    Gamefly 3 month free trial

  • You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you
    who aren’t afraid to say how they believe.
    Always follow your heart. Gamefly 3 month free trial

  • I love what you guys are up too. This type of clever work and
    coverage! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve incorporated
    you guys to my blogroll.

  • This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks!

  • This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  • Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely out there.

  • Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped
    me out much. I’m hoping to offer something back and help others such as you helped me.

  • After looking over a handful of the blog articles on your blog, I truly appreciate your way of writing a blog.
    I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my
    website as well and tell me what you think.