Thursday, April 26, 2012

Copy Cat

Kate Middleton's famous blue dress and copies

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not if you’re a designer. Designers guard their fashion and jewelry designs closely but it doesn’t always keep others from making a copy. If something is popular and a copy is made, those who make the copy can cash in on the original’s popularity. For years factories in other countries have been making copies of top designer handbags. Many large luxury design houses have had to deal with these copycats long distance and usually armed with a lot of cash and clout they’ve been able to slow down the flow of counterfeit goods. Counterfeit goods are big business so it seems almost impossible to completely shut it down. What has always intrigued me is when it is a copy and when is it just similar?

 The slightly longer version for $59.99, notice the model's hairdo

When Kate Middleton stood before the public in her now famous blue dress to announce her engagement the fashion world went nuts. The dress was immediately copied by anyone and everyone. It is still very popular and now a similar dress can be purchased via catalogs. I should know, I received a catalog that has a similar dress for just $59.99. While the dress is not exact, it is similar enough that I know where the original design or thought came from and who is responsible for its popularity. Women have wanted the “it” item for years. In the golden age of Hollywood many women copied the style and look of silent screen actresses and even today we are still all doing it. We can’t help it, they look great and we want that look.

 The original Issa wrap

It all continues to be a battle. Part of the problem stems from a desire to get a particular look that begins in a luxury design house but is desired by a typical college student or working gal. We all want to look fashionable and I buy fashion magazines for the advice and to see what the latest trends are. When we see something we like and are sure that it will make us look good too, we try and emulate it. It’s not always easy because of budget concerns. That’s when copying gets in the way. If you can’t afford that designer dress maybe you can find it on-line or in shop that sells mass produced goods. It’s not easy. I remember a few summers ago when I saw a beautiful Calvin Klein eyelet dress in white. Perfect for summer but not perfect for my budget. I found the dress in an unnamed shop for a tenth of the price and I put the look together for a fraction of the price, all the way down to the straw clutch and wooden sandals.

 Even the engagement ring is being copied in sterling silver

The weirdest part about my copying the outfit was I didn’t feel bad. I actually felt good about how the look turned out and how much money I saved. I still have the dress and maybe I’ll wear that look again during the summer. Fashion gives us ideas, a template to work from; to deny us the ability to take a little artistic license seems wrong. I know that taking a top seller like a Louis Vuitton handbag and making an exact copy is totally wrong, but to try and find a handbag that is similar in shape, color and size seems okay. Where do you draw the line? For now I’m probably going to continue to find looks that I like and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I’m trying to copy a look not an individual item. Maybe that’s where the line is drawn?

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