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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Day In a Page

    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

    Caught in the web of legal imperialism

    The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert