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BW Businessworld

Fashion World Facing Adversity of Plagiarism

Renowned designers are joining hands and raising voice against the plague that is affecting fashion industry since ages. BW Businessworld takes a glance at the growing weed in the world of fashion and style.

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The industry of glitz and glamour is facing the adversity of plagiarism. Copying the work of others for the sake of earning some extra bucks and recognition, is a part and parcel of the fashion world. There have been several instances where the designers’ creations or certain elements of the design have been imitated by either other designers or retail chains.

In June 2017, Nida Mahmood, an eminent designer of India had filed a complaint against one of the largest retail chains, claiming that they have copied her design. According to Mahmood, the design that got duplicated was one of her best sellers. She had also used the same design and variations of it throughout her restaurant Junglee Billee.

While speaking to BW Businessworld about her design that got copied, Mahmood said, “They should at least come to us conveying that they want to buy our design or collaborate with us, rather than stealing our bread and butter.”

“Brand name suffers the most because of plagiarism,” she added.

There have been similar occurrences where professionals have replicated other designer’s work. Rohit Bal, a well-known fashion designer from New Delhi, revealed that some other designer had stolen one of his creations.

Fashion plagiarism is not only confined to imitating designs or elements from designers of the same country, but also getting ‘inspired’ from international labels.

There are various cases where Indian professionals mirrored work from across the border:

1. Rick Roy

Rick Roy had been accused of imitating designer dresses from international labels such as Valentino.

2. Nalandda Bhandari

Nalandda Bhandari was accused of duplicating a black Marchesa dress and using it in one of the most prestigious fashion events.

Some of the plagiarism cases in the West:

Tuesday Bassen’s designs and illustrations were plagiarised by fashion giant Zara. Zara has been accused of copying other designer’s work several times.

Also, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was taken to court by Christian Louboutin over their use of his signature red sole on one of their designs.

Copyright Issues:

When BW Businessworld contacted Tarun Tahiliani about the copyright issues prevailing in the fashion industry, he said that the industry totally lacks patent for designs. He also approached court to sue a designer from Delhi.

“I had bought identical copies of my clothes with their (the Delhi designer) label at a store in Dubai, we both retail from. I carried them back, but the Indian legal system doesn’t give you recourse for much,” he added.

He vented out his anger saying that the lawyers make all the money and the cases go on for years. He said that they are too backed-up and the judges do not give judgment. Eventually Tahiliani had to drop the case.

“Now we focus on making clothes very complicated and our USP is our construction, so most people can’t copy them,” he said.

Mahmood confessed that the biggest problem is that one cannot go and copyright every single design that one makes. Whoever duplicates, change three to four elements in it and thus the court of law say that it is inspired and not copied.

“Laws are very flimsy when it comes to design. Many imitated work could be seen in a wholesale market like Chandni Chowk,” she said.

While talking about fashion plagiarism Ritu Kumar, a renowned fashion designer, said, “We all are fighting cases with our hands tied. These cases go on for years and it’s a very tedious procedure. In Paris there is a strong and immediate penalty, we don’t have something like that.”

Anita Dongre, another eminent designer of India told, that as a designer  it hurts that so many manufacturers of fast fashion, churn multiple  copies of garments that have otherwise taken several months to design  and produce.

Safir Anand, copyright expert, while shedding light on the issue said, "To improve the scenario, it is imperative that the design community engages to understand the scope of rights, the scope of protection, the advantages of protection and the advantages of enforcement."

He further said that the situation will improve when courts fast track such matters (already under consideration) and encourage to grant exemplary and punitive damages. "Things will also get better if there is a specific legislation that tackles the interest of the fashion industry and does away with the requirement to protect the work before any commercial launch," he added.

Lack of regulations against plagiarism in the fashion industry has encouraged the imitators to steal other’s work and draw profit for the same. There is a dire need to stop piracy in order to safeguard the authenticity of the work done by a designer or a textile professional.


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plagiarism fashion industry Rohit Bal copyright