Design Piracy: The Reality Behind Fast Fashion

By Ashita Bhandari

For most of us fashion and design is something we see around us, on the television, runway, movies or simply at the mall. But for designers, people creating new styles and trends it takes serious inspiration, innovation and lots of hard work behind the inception of each trend or even a small pattern.

Design plagiarism is a worrisome issue (and rightly so) among the Indian and global fashion industry. On one hand it is the copy and piracy of designs that makes fashion ‘hot’. A niche majority wears couture and high street fashion. Just after a few days, replicas are made of these outfits from the runway and fast fashion retail stores like Zara, Forever 21, H&M stock the latest fashion clothing and accessories due to their extremely fast and efficient supply chains. Soon a certain trend becomes popular and can be seen everywhere. The early adopters however now start looking for newer more recent trends.

In a way, copy of designs has pushed high street fashion but has also brought problems in terms of plagiarism of design and identifying intellectual property rights. It has no doubt become extremely difficult to prove a design as pirated. A lot of designers (thanks to social media) are talking about how their designs are being stolen and used under other labels. However, it is not always that this can come under violation of rights even though the design most certainly is pirated.

2 hermes birkin and mawi
left to right: Hermès Birkin and design copy by Mawi



Céline Trapeze and shape copy by Michael Kors



Recently, Goan fashion designer Wendell Rodricks accused Payal Khandwala of copying his design featuring pleats.



Advaeita Mathur accuses a company for copy of her furniture and fixture designs.



Another design piracy let out through social media.

Designers such as Rohit Bal, Anita Dongre and Anju Modi have copyrighted their whole collections under Fashion Design Council of India.



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