With the fashion industry generating over 350 billion annually, a few New York based designers ( Diane Von Furstenberg, Narcisco Rodriguez and Nicole Miller just to name a few) have formed a coalition in seeking that the current US copy write law extend to the fashion world.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America is pushing for the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. The act would grant a three year copyright protection in fashion designs, and would incur penalties of 250,000 or $5 per copy when violated. The bill also might go as far as protecting not only the design concepts cut and shape, but also go farther and actually protect the pattern on a piece of fabric used for garment assembly. Both Houses have agreed and have drafted similar bills recognizing the need for US fashion industry to be protected by law.
What has caused this change of attitude in the fashion world when after all fashion is a re-inventing of itself from past trends to drawing inspiration from other designers .In the past the view was that Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Why change now? Three drastic things have turned the American fashion world to take notice and re-think the rather relaxed view of the past.
The new trend of top designers like Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Isaac Mizrahi, and Nicole Miller bringing exclusive designer collections to mid level retailers such as Target, Kohls and JC Pennys thus affording the masses the appeal of being fashionable. The rate at which knock-offs can be created from cut, to production to on the rack from huge over seas supply chains and manufacturing.
Finally the new trend of designers extending their own labels into diversified markets crossing over to reach new potential clients. A good example would be some of the luxury jean line designers, now creating sportswear, accessories and even shoes. However, not all in the fashion industry agree with the proposed bill and even The Council of Fashion Designers of America is split on the bill. What causes concerns are the damaging effects it could have, the cure maybe greater than the illness stifling creativity, competition and growth.
After all it is these very same principles that allow fashion to grow, to be fresh drawing its inspiration from the past and being able to be free and reference others designs and some how making them original. How many times have we seen fashion classics re-born such as the little black cocktail dress, the polo shirt or the cargo pants, with a new twist, perhaps; an added pocket, different material or new stitch this is what births trends, the very thing that keeps fashion alive, who will decide who created an original. Did Ralph Lauren really design the cotton knit shirt known so affectionately as the Polo shirt or did the logo on the shirt create the buzz? If such law existed would they have been a success? Only time will tell who this bill really benefits.