Wildfox Couture Rips Off Ann Demeulemeester SS98
Today started off as any normal day would. Fridays are normally my day of being silent and contemplative before the oncoming weekend, where I forget half of my priorities in order to relax. After waking up in a fog of post-headcold sickness and getting my senses to their level of full awareness, my day was abruptly thunderstruck by something that resonated with me on a personal level. In other words… I got pissed off. Which means I want to talk about it.
We see bloggers and online journalists constantly outing designers for “designer plagiarism”. Whether those others were designers of a lower standing like small silkscreen apparel companies, independent brands, or even a brand of a higher stature like say, someone like Chanel, no one is exempt from this type of unpunished plagiarism. I find myself constantly questioning why these designers aren’t being sued or somehow penalized for outright stealing the concept of someone else. An article is written, people get angry, and then it’s quickly swept under the rug.
Fashion is constantly bombarding us with new imagery, styles, trends, and artistic concepts. It’s incredibly easy to not notice the similarities when we’re constantly moving forward and trying to find the next big thing that excites us. But what about the people who feel cheated, jaded, and ultimately lose part of their profit and impact of image (which very well could be their livelihood and life’s passion) due to these brands that have more outstanding popularity or power than them? More often than not their voices are hushed or not even heard. A lot of articles I’ve read, (Even ones written by the defendant designers themselves) often don’t get the exposure necessary to make this offense widely known. This situation is a real issue. An issue of integrity.
Now I would like to share my first hand account of being an unknowing supporter of plagiarism. Two years ago I was shopping a Dollskill storewide sale near the beginning of summer. I was buying a few key pieces to fill in my summer wardrobe. I remember the objects like it was yesterday. A Luv AJ sheet metal cuff, a snakeskin textured leather hat, a hot magenta beanie with the slogan “Be Fucking Polite”, and last but not least… a Wildfox Couture shirt with the slogan “holy” printed on the front of it (pictured above). This t-shirt was one of my favorites for the entire summer and I wore it often, even while visiting the spiritual community of Lilydale for the third consecutive summer in a row. It was intensely comfortable and appropriate for the situation. What I didn’t know, however, was that I was wearing a direct ripoff of Ann Demeulemeester’s SS98 collection. I would have never been aware of this except by pure happenstance.
I was on Facebook this morning reading my feed, as I do every morning to update myself on current news in fashion and many other subjects. I am an article whore I’ll admit it. I spend 50% of my day reading… and naturally I was excited to see the release of Ann Demeulemeester’s book. While I was previewing images related to the book I saw an image that immediately gave me that feeling in my chest like I wanted to punch someone. Her SS98 collection featured a man wearing a white tank with the same exact “holy” slogan written on it in nearly identical text.
Some would say “So what? It’s just a word in cursive. Anyone can put some cursive on a t-shirt.” Even if it is a ripoff of someone else’s collection, it is so far back in the archives one would barely even notice or put much merit to it since it is a completely uncomplicated design anyone could make. Some may even argue it could have been a minor oversight since often designers think of the same ideas without even realizing it. I know because I’ve lived that. The
fact is true that anyone CAN do it. I can easily buy a silkscreen kit for around $50, make a transparency, expose my screen, and squeegie it into a shirt with any design I deem fit and wear it to my desire. But I could not, however, do that with someone’s design that is not my own, decide to sell it, and then have no consequence as the result. Just because someone CAN do something doesn’t mean they should. Perhaps copyright infringement rings a bell? Chanel once released a statement regarding people knocking off it’s iconic double C logo and other trademarks stating they did not appreciate the misuse of any copyrighted material owned by them. The only way this is permissible is with the brands consent. I know, however, that this was not an oversight. The image makes it painfully obvious this was a direct ripoff. Plus the fact that Ann’s collection was released many years prior to Wildfox’s sends up huge red flags.
With all this said, why do we consistently ignore the pleas of designers who put their heart and soul into their concepts? Why is there no legitimate fight for protecting copyright material within the lower end stratosphere of commercial fashion in specific? I could think of a few possibilities off the bat.
Status of the brand plays a huge role in how much importance we place in the integrity of the design. Large worldwide fashion houses have the most power because their trademark and name is known on a vast scale. Smaller independent brands seem to be the most targeted victims of plagiarism because they are not as well known and operate based on a cult following. Anyone outside of that circle is normally oblivious as to where those designs could end up or came from. When smaller brands speak out against other more popular brands cannibalizing their designs, it is often not widely received by the public. Without targeted searching or previous awareness of the subject no one would even be able to find the information. Those who do know and speak out have their pleas fall on deaf ears. Usually there are more important matters we concern ourselves with making the time we have to listen to someone complain seem minimal. Plus if a brand isn’t well known…. who is there to listen? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? More often than not it doesn’t.
Another key role when factoring in the odds of whether or not plagiarism will go supported or unnoticed, is placed on the value of money and price. Larger brands don’t appreciate plagiarism… but they can also tolerate it to a much higher degree when they are money making machines. If a large brand wants to take a stance on this issue it can with ease, because the law favors those with the most money because money means better legal teams and overall power in the situation.This is all common sense as terrible as it sounds. This same thing cannot be said for small independent designers who pour their hearts, souls, and income into their small businesses. I feel for those designers because I’ve been in situations where my work has been plagiarized even if it was to a small degree. It’s irritating as hell. It’s insulting to one’s effort and creativity. It just plain SUCKS. And it makes you feel robbed of a tiny tiny piece of your livelihood. Smaller brands don’t have the profit to make a huge legal mess out of everything. Especially over one or a few designs. They aren’t in the financial position or social standing to fight back making them easy prey.
As far as price goes in regards to plagiarism it comes up on both ends of the spectrum both in commercial and high end fashion. High end designer’s seeming more pricey and elite automatically makes it seem more desirable or genuine despite it’s folly in judgement. In regard to this, Jeremy Scott gets a lot of plagiarism smack for ripping off artists who are not even reclusive, but well known. But unfortunately they may not seem as elite or lavish as Scott’s brand. He can get away with this though because of his high end prices and status. Status and price doesn’t always make one exempt in this cutthroat business. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Gucci, and many other brands with iconic logos are constantly ripped off and resold even on stores like Dollskill. The logos are inserted into quirky sayings or somehow slightly altered to look different. They are essentially the SAME exact logo. Smaller brands get away with making profit from them because of those who can’t afford say, a Gucci monogrammed shirt, but who still want to support the name brand or feel like it is attainable to them. And sure, who doesn’t want to feel like an A-lister now and again. But I’m not 100% on whether or not that is the right or “moral” thing to do per say. I have avoided these knockoff designs despite temptation. As an artist I feel like it is against my creative integrity to support a knockoff. Plus I would be supporting copyright infringement which is a huge no no in my book.
My third and last key point has to do with all of us. The end all be all of plagiarism support comes straight from us, the consumer. We all want what we want and the majority of the time we are pretty unapologetic about it. We choose to support this form of plagiarism with our gimme gimme now now attitudes that feed into our every purchasing decision. Not all of us can afford high end designers, and those of us who can feel as if we’ve already passed over the threshold of accountability because hey… that thing cost a lot of money so it MUST be worth it. it HAS to be genuine. We purposely choose to overlook these crimes against our fellow creatives so we can feel as if we got what we wanted without consequence. Plus either way it doesn’t effect us directly so why bother making a stink about it?
I think that this attitude has no merit. As consumers we should be conscious of everything we choose to bring into our lives and put more value on the integrity of brands and what they choose to feed to us. A lot of people feel this way and seem to be heading in the direction of the “aware consumer” rather than just buying into things for their aesthetic or monetary value. But it seems that isn’t enough to protect those of us who have been victims of the steal.
With all of this said, I feel that in the past fashion at it’s core had more integrity across the scale. People were proud to be the “first” to do something and no one wanted to be seen as a copycat. How could one be considered a maverick if not completely original? Plus… there were a lot less ideas being regurgitated time and time again because quite frankly we just weren’t “there yet” and the world was much less commercial. The concept of complete originality is of course, at it’s core, non existent. People always steal concepts, techniques, and inspiration from one another in order to further their own ideas. Especially artists. But I believe there is a pretty clear difference between being inspired and outright stealing something from someone. In Wildfox Couture’s case, they didn’t even attempt to to seem subliminal. I find that to be the most insulting form of plagiarism of all. At least when content is altered it can be altered enough to be considered an entirely new concept. I’ve practiced this many times in my own artwork to much success and found that once the alteration is at it’s final stage it actually does birth a completely original concept. As long as it is allowed that evolution and it needs to be a very in depth process with a lot of thought and respect put into it. So in other words… evolve or become a copycat.
I hope this short article reaches as many people as possible. I hope that the next time you make a purchase of something whether it be, fashion, lifestyle, or what have you that you act as a conscious consumer. Base your decision off of real principles you practice within your own immediate life and don’t opt for the easy way out. Speak out against plagiarism and make it as known as possible. Support your independent designers and help them feel like their ideas are appreciated. One day that stolen idea could be yours. It may even be one that you are passionate about with every inch of you. If I had known sooner the design I purchased was the fruit of someone else’s labor I would have never bought it. Even now my immediate urge is to return it. And I will just out of principle.
Plus, if I can be frank, it wasn’t really worth the money. (Even on sale)
Team Ann Till Death (TATD) <3
Golden Nugget Lambertville, NJ
Say hello to my little friends. (Said in Tony Montana voice)
In My Closet
1930s Vintage Cosmetic Purse
Awhile back in the autumn season, I took a trip to the Golden Nugget Flea Market in Lambertville, NJ for the first time. It’s pretty overhwhelming, making your way through a new marketspace on the first go around.
As far as fashion is concerned, I found some slim but unique pickings. One of which is pictured above. These interesting “carry all” cosmetic purses were popular around the 1930s-40s. I actually find them to be quite practical now, as far as modern standards are concerned. I also tend to hate carrying anything but cash, if I can help it. So that convenient money clip sold it for me. I even managed to toy with it and figure out how to fit my lipsticks. I’m supposing you could use the enclosure for loose powders with careful cleaning.
So here’s to women loving their makeup throughout the ages.
I’m all about it.