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Inspired or just too tired to think of something new?

Photo by Tessa Kong ’19

There is a fine line between ripping someone off and using their ideas as inspiration. And let me tell you: this line is microscopic in the fashion industry. Repeat offenders are big corporate brands like Zara, Shein and Urban Outfitters who all blatantly rip off boutique designers to get most of the “inspiration” for their designs. Inspiration is when you use what was made before and elaborate on it with your own take. Inspiration is not using the exact same pattern, fabric and colors, but changing the name and slapping on a new brand tag; that is copying. 

Big corporations steal designs because they see a concept that is being sold by a small designer and immediately want to profit from it. They have the technology and resources to take any piece of clothing and copy it in seconds. Then all they have to do is take photos, add it on to their website and they have successfully copied another brand. You might ask: what can be done to prevent this? Well, not much. There are very few laws that can protect designers from copyright infringement. The costs and efforts to take legal action against giant corporations with huge legal teams to possibly win your case isn’t worth the money that you would make from the trial. Thus, calling out these corporations is a job left to the public. 

The account on Instagram @dietprada, reports on news pertaining to all things fashion and culture, and it often calls out big brands for stealing smaller brands designs. The account has over three million followers who are ready to flood the comments exposing big brands for copying. However, other than a couple thousand hate comments, the backlash wears off quickly and the companies are on to the next scandal.

I understand that the prices from whichever fast fashion place is cheapest and most accessible are enticing, but just know that price was paid by someone else’s hard work and ideas. However, original designs are not always the most accessible option and if you love the style from a cheaper source, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get it. I am more critiquing the big companies for not giving the rightful designers credit!  And when asked where you got your shirt, you should say the big brand name, adding the name of the boutique designer that it was copied from.

I will also call myself out for buying the cheaper $25 shirt from Zara rather than the $50 shirt from an independent brand. It’s kinda like buying hazelnut spread at Vons; it tastes like what it is supposed to be, and you paid $1 cheaper, but deep down you know the Nutella tastes better. 

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