Does originality exist anymore? Can anyone truly create something entirely new? Or has it always originated from somewhere or someone? The act of plagiarism is rife in the fashion industry, as global brands rip off indie artists, or as social media icons pass off another individuals image or work to play a part in their own brand. There is a fine line between taking inspiration which will then inform something new and stealing the idea entirely.
Take powerhouse brand Zara for example, they were under attack recently for appropriating the work of artist Tuesday Bassen, using extremely similar copies of her motifs as embroidery on their garments. Bassen took to Twitter and Instagram to publicise her outrage. Luckily her followers agreed, leading to many consumers and artists denouncing the brand, angry that such a huge company would take advantage of a small artist.
As you can see from the image posted above, it can’t be denied that the designs are very similar, with only slight changes. The Guardian reported:
‘The artist contacted Zara with a lawyer about the supposed copies. According to Bassen’s posts, she was told that her designs were not distinctive enough to be associated with her and that notifications about the copies amounted to a “handful of complaints” in comparison with the monthly traffic on Zara and Bershka, a store owned by the same parent company.’
Another example of plagiarism in the fashion industry is the use of images of Notorious Big and Tupac Shakur on ‘Vintage’ t-shirts sold in Kendall and Kylie’s fashion line. The t-shirts featured images of the late rappers with images of Kendall or Kylie superimposed on top of them. This caused the Jenner sisters to be threatened with legal action by Voletta Wallace, Notorious Big’s mother, for using his image for their own profit without permission.
“The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my son Christopher to sell a T-shirt. This is disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!”
In other news, Central St Martins student Pierre-Louis Auvray, recently claimed that high fashion brand Gucci had ripped off his ‘alien’ prosthetic concept which he had frequently featured on his Instagram, in the form of digital fashion illustrations. The creative director of the designer brand, Alessandro Michele denied that any inspiration had been taken from the young creative, saying to Business of Fashion:
“It’s not true (…) It’s something that makes me feel really sad. People build a story around nothing.”
It can’t be denied that this topic is such a grey area within the fashion industry. Where is the line which differentiates taking inspiration and stealing an idea? I admittedly take many ideas from various artists, people and places to use within my own work. Am I contributing to the exploitation of other creatives work? On that note, I’ll leave you with a quote by the infamous Pablo Picasso; “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
What do you think about the plagiarism that takes place in the fashion industry? Are individuals being too sensitive or are they right to demand recognition for the stealing of their work? Let me know in the comments below!