Fashion: Cool for copycats

Off the peg; No sooner has the last model sashayed down the catwalk, than the outfit (or something like it) is on the high street.

There's a new game in the high street stores: Who's Copying Who? Players must be intimate with the catwalk collections of the last few seasons and anoraky enough to care. To play, all you have to do is go shopping and pair up garments with the designer who thought of it first.

As shoppers have become more aware of fashion, through newspapers, magazine and television, they expect to see the catwalk trends in their local chain store within weeks. And they do. It's no secret that British high street stores "take inspiration" from, or copy from. designers who show on the catwalk, but due to consumer expectation, it is now happening on such a large scale that it is hard to ignore.

But where once there were lawsuits, now there seems to be acceptance. And in an ironic twist, clever retailers are hiring fashion names to "guest" design collections for the high street (see Hussein Chalayan at Top Shop or Julien McDonald at Marks & Spencer) and making huge profits in the process. Glossy magazines now have no qualms about applauding these lookalike garments by showing them alongside genuine designer articles.

The ingenious thing about the high street is that if it does take inspiration from the catwalk, it doesn't have to be from one designer. It can be a skirt shape from Clements Riberio with detail from Marc Jacobs, and colour by Gucci (three points). It can be a nightie dress shape from Chloe with beading detail from Matthew Williamson (two points). It can even be perspex-heeled mules almost identical to a pair by Prada (one point).

As a rule of thumb, breach of copyright depends on whether you have copied not the idea, but the substance of a garment. If the second garment was conceived with an eye to the first, and substantially follows it, solicitors consider there to have been copyright infringement. The high street manufacturers, however, take another view: if they are to rip off a garment (something that they admit to doing, off the record, of course), they say that there must be at least five differences between their version, and the design they are copying. Stuart Lockyear, solicitor with Stephens Innocent and an expert on fashion copyright, says this last point is "absolute rubbish. There could be a hundred changes, but if there are substantial similarities we can sue." Which he did, successfully, in 1993, when Antoni & Alison contested that a T-shirt design by Giorgio Armani could not have been conceived without their similar design.

Antoni & Alison is amongst the most copied of fashion labels. Their T- shirt logo's "Love It", "Modern", and "Give Me Space", and their vacuum-sealed packaging have "inspired" many fashion companies. Antoni sums up the general attitude among designers. "A good idea is bound to be copied. All we can do is offer the real thing, with the design integrity and quality only we can provide."

Ultimately, that's where the high street loses out. They might be offering a reworked version of, say, the winter 1998 Mathew Williamson snowflake coat pictured here, but they'll never be able to provide the quality, luxury, workmanship and originality of a designer collection

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam