“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” -Coco Chanel
But how much are you willing to pay for it?
With the rise of the DIYs and the unashamed admittance to knockoffs, everyone seems to have found ways around wanting what they can't have. Namely, by kinda-sorta having them anyway.
When a new item is released, and it's all the rage, it's usually because the object in question is innovatively designed and perfectly executed. It leads many to think, "I've never seen anything like it and therefore, I must have it." It leads me to think, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" The problem? What normal person has $2000 laying around to spend on the latest "it" bag? So the easiest thing to do is to wait until Forever21 or Target or H&M comes up with a cheaper version of the same bag, or better yet, to make one ourselves, so as to insure uniqueness. While that makes us all very happy people, designers are not too keen on it.
Take, for example, the ludicrous Target/Proenza Schouler intellectual property scandal. I'm not going to lie, the PS1 messenger bag and Target's Mossimo bags are eerily similar. And it's clear that the latter is a rip-off. But while Proenza Schouler wags their finger and tut-tuts at the former collab partner, many commenters on the topic feel that there is, in fact, nothing wrong with this situation.
In interesting point is put out by Allison of Cambridge, Mass., when she says:
"Honestly, if Proenza Schouler thinks they are losing money in sales of a $1500 bag to Target's $35 bag, they are crazy. No one who would reasonably settle for a fake leather, $35 version of this bag is realistically going to save enough to afford the PS version. They may feel as if their design was too closely borrowed, which is a fair and yet still debateable point, but it is frankly laughable that they think Target is stealing their customers. If Marc Jacobs copied their bag and started selling it for the same or similar price, fine. But not Target, and not at 98% less cost."
Does PS even have a right to be angry? If so, why? Because the average person isn't buying a $2k bag? If that's the case, then exactly who are they catering to? Because while this bag is pretty enough, it is, in its essence, a satchel. And a satchel isn't a groundbreaking concept. Lazaro Hernandez, co-founder of PS, tells us what makes the PS1 so unique, which is that the "whole aesthetical idea with this bag was to take the hardware off." Well, that's nice, but who would have guessed that looking at it? How many people do you hear walking around Barney's talking about the beauty of the de-metalled messenger bag (which is honestly just missing two front buckles)? While I respect Proenza Schouler (I love them to bits) and other smaller designers of renown, one can't overlook these facts: a) almost everything ever created is simply an improvement or variation of something already made, and that b) human minds are funny things, and lots of people can come up with the same idea at the same time. Since it's common knowledge that Target did, in fact, blatantly copy a chic, but generally meh design, the question now becomes, who did Proenza Schouler get their idea from? That doesn't matter, really, because they had created the "it" bag first for more money two years before Target copied them. But shouldn't it NOT be a problem anymore? I mean, the PS1 was HUGE in 2009, but as of 2011 when the Target copy came out, the bag was nowhere to be found on any "it" bag lists.
Okay, okay. So maybe it still doesn't make it okay to rip designers off so closely.
An interesting opinion was provided by a JW, saying,
"Intellectual property in fashion, can only apply to designs which are truly innovative and have never been seen before, and sadly, most people are not willing to buy or wear designs that meet such criteria, thus very few designers are willing or able to be that inventive ( just one of the many fascinating paradoxes in fashion).
Designer clothing and accessories which get copied for the mass market, are usually knocked off so easily because the patterns are not very complicated, and the aesthetic is basically commercial (when was the last time you saw a mass market knock off of a Comme Des Garcons "bump dress"?)."
So, can Proenza Schouler claim the PS1 as intellectual property, if so much of it has been in existence long before Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCullough were even born?
I know that for myself, the answer I give depends on the item in question. I would not dream of buying a knockoff 3.1 Phillip Lim 31 Minute clutch, because I think it's absolutely too beautiful to not have an original of. I would, however, buy lots of Jeffrey Campbells that, while still a bit pricey, are nowhere near as bank-breaking as their actually well-designed original counterparts.
Do you value each designer's ideas differently, and if so, would you or could you pay for them?