Fast Fashion And The Plagiarism Of Independent Designers

by Sep 20, 2016

Is the fashion industry enabling the plagiarism of independent designers? We’re so used to trends trickling up and down the fashion chain, but is fast fashion turning inspiration into downright copying?

The fashion industry has a habit of seeking inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, with high end designers recreating Converse All Stars in their own style and Primark copying prints from Givenchy. But the borderline between inspiration and plagiarism is thin.

As high street consumers we’re very aware of designer fashion trends trickling down into our high street, abundantly clear in stores like H&M and Primark, who are able to produce near exact copies with cheaper fabrics and techniques. But there are times when the flow reverses, and we see independent artists having their styles copied and sold in mass production.

LA artist Tuesday Bassen accused Zara of copying her designs, and after seeing multiple designs side by side we have to admit it can’t be a fluke. Zara is well known for their fast fashion and ability to turnover new styles from design to store within 2 weeks. With pressure on designers to work at mind-spinning speeds, can Zara really claim to be inspired by trends when copying is so much faster for production? While Zara could claim that they are inspired by everything and anything, it’s rare to see them come out on top from it. Without social media, this would hardly have been picked up by so many people, and Zara would have simply received private, individual complaints that meant a recall from the shelves.

Fast Fashion - Tuesday Bassen

The response from Zara to Tuesday was an appalling large corporation waffle about how the handful of complaints from Tuesday and her fans was too minuscule in comparison to Zara’s website visits. As true as it may be, I hope whoever responded to her has had a serious talking to on how to respond to complaints in a world of transparent social media.

Fast Fashion - Tuesday Bassen mixed emotions

The response from Zara to Tuesday was an appalling large corporation waffle about how the handful of complaints from Tuesday and her fans was too minuscule in comparison to Zara’s website visits. As true as it may be, I hope whoever responded to her has had a serious talking to on how to respond to complaints in a world of transparent social media.

After the case became more widely spread, a spokesperson from Inditex (Zara’s parent company) responded saying “On receiving these allegations, the relevant items were immediately suspended from sale and an investigation opened. In parallel, Inditex’s legal team also contacted Tuesday Bassen’s lawyers to clarify and resolve the situation. Inditex has more than 600 designers in house that create more than 50,000 designs a year, it has the highest respect towards each individual’s creativity and will investigate this specific case to its end.”

Fast Fashion - Tuesday Bassen Instagram post

One of the most troubling things about this case is that artists in today’s open and overfilled with data world must be hesitant to post their work online or on social media for fear of large corporations or artworkers in Asia being paid to vectorise artwork they find anywhere.

ASOS, which initially stood for ‘as seen on screen’ has typically filled their own label with copies of clothes worn by celebrities, but even they seem to be struggling with inspiration as they were accused by independent brand Hopeless Lingerie of stealing one of their designs.

Fast Fashion - Hopeless Lingerie Instagram post

While ASOS removed the item from their website, the initial response from Zara tells us there are still corporations out there who will make independent artists feel worthless and without defence against such prominent brands. The only hope for these plagiarised artists is to establish enough of a fan base for their designs to easily be recognised when they’re replicated with the hope that big brands will stop this blatant form of copying. With all of this coming to light over the past couple of months we do hope that some strict copyright laws will be written for independent artists to protect their designs in the future.

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Images © Liberation, Tuesday Bassen on Instagram & Hopeless Lingerie

About Firuze French

Firuze is headstrong but a fan of cute things. Although she’s a minimalist on the outside, she’s overly technical on the inside. As a design consultant, Firuze is always on hand to offer advice on creative and tech trends. She’s a London lover but New York dreamer who loves city life. Firuze considers herself an interior designer in training, DIY hobbyist and a lover of Michelin star dining for a bargain price.