Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Copy Cat Fashion

You may continue to mourn the loss of the Luella brand for its flirtacious summer dresses but Luella Bartley's influence is alive and well on the high street. I bought this stunner for a mere £22 from F&F at Tesco but I couldn't help but be shocked at its resemblence to a piece from Luella's S/S 2010 collection which retailed for several hundred.

Copy Cat Fashion

Coco Chanel once said : "The more copied you are, the more famous – the time to cry is when they stop". With meticulous copies of designer clothes appearing on the high street at break neck speed, what is the impact of Chanel’s maxim on the fashion world?

For the fashion focused, when a crafty copy of a designer piece appears on the high street for a quarter of the price, temptation will inevitably triumph. Some argue that the widespread and lightning-fast copying of catwalk designs by high-street stores maintains interest in couture among those who cannot afford to buy from big-name designers. Others however, argue that it destroys originality.

With the economic downturn, the very rich will continue buying the designer brands and the rest of us will attempt to emulate this look. The fashion industry is driven by fantasy and this may be manifested in a 17 year old schoolgirl’s dream to wear couture from the pages of Vogue only now it appears she can afford it. Arguably, the fashion designer may lose artistic integrity but he won’t lose business because the people who buy the copies were never going to buy the originals. Furthermore, the copies rarely imitate the quality of fabric, cut and finishing of the designer pieces.

Certainly, there have been efforts to increase the accessibility of more modest wallets to high quality design with ranges such as Christopher Kane for Topshop and Jimmy Choo for H&M perhaps rather cynically to tap the buoyant high street market. This may partially stem the demand for designer knock offs but the savvy consumer will indefinitely demand more. Within the creative industries, this copy cat behaviour appears endemic. In 2009, Armani accused Dolce & Gabbana of imitating no less than 16 pieces from his collection.

But who’s the cat that got the cream? With the designers copying the designers and the public buying even craftier copies, the fashion industry continues to evolve and what drives this is inspiration. So if you can’t beat them, join them at a snip of the price.

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