Friday, June 10, 2011

What is genuine design?


Yesterday evening I was looking for inspiration for a new dress in some fantasy print, which I would describe as a 'jungle' print. So, while looking, I came across this Erdem number from his Resort 2012 collection (his dresses sell at $1000 and up)

While I loved this particular collection, this dress has instantly reminded me of the Vogue Paris Original design by Laroche. The technical drawing reveals more detail.

We all heard about how designers are complaining about low-priced knock-offs. In most cases, copies are made in cheaper materials and using cheaper manufacturing processes... but, let's be realistic - Hermès clients won't be buying a Birkin bag from a table on a Canal Street sidewalk....

I also blogged about Project Runway's finalist Andy South knocking off Pattern Magic designs in his final collection. Well, how far will he make it after this experience?

But, what about when a star designer practically copies most of the design (of course, shape and construction are not the only elements of design). The question is, what exactly is the Erdem design vision when it comes to the above dress?

What do you think, readers? Are there designers with an authentic design vision?


  1. Interesting question! I always find discussions on plagiarism and design copy tricky. Is it true plagiarism or is it inspired work? And can you nowadays really be that inventive, without copying elements of previous eras and designs? If any designer comes up with a A-Line skirt, for example, is it plagiarism?

    I do think a lot of reputable designers and retailers blatantly copy old (and not so old) designs or are heavily influenced by them but I think the line between plagiarism and inspiration is thin.

    Not sure about the vision for the above, but maybe it's on the print and fabric choice. Or maybe there isn't much of a vision.

  2. Hmmm, this is a very difficult question. I think there's only so many designs to go around. I can't remember the last time I saw something truly unique. Maybe those days are gone??? Maybe we've done it all already? I don't know. It seems that something has to be fairly extreme to be considered unique these days (ex: true Alexander McQueen designs).
    I'm glad I only dabble in fashion and play at sewing and never have to have that pressure on me.

  3. I think it is really hard to be truly original while still producing wearable and saleable clothing - consistently anyway. Most new designs end up being some sort of combination or permutation of an existing one, and I think this one is just another example of that, not necessarily plaigirism. If the asymmetric drape was at the back however...!
    In contrast, I think it is relatively easy to produce outlandish designs that few will buy or wear, and which sell more magazines than actual garments!

  4. Sherry, it is really great to hear your prospective since you are a fashion designer yourself! I think I agree with you on the issue of plagiarism - this design is close but not an exact copy...

  5. You should read the hilarious "Fashion Babylon" by Imogen Edwards-Jones. Supposedly based on industry insights, there's one bit in there where the fictional designer took a 2nd hand garment right off the rack of some vintage shop and put it on her runway to great acclaim.

    What's at stake I think isn't really originality, but commercial interests. Yeah, we pay lip service to originality, but would you really want to wear original outlandish designs?

    If it's copying / "being inspired" by old designs, maybe that's more acceptable commercially than coping something that someone else just made fashionable / sellable again. It's not the design that most consumer are after - it's the allure of being "fashionable", the status symbol. So low-priced knock-offs are a pain, because they're making money off someone else's effort to make something fashionable and desirable again. It's especially a pain if the "designer" isn't making enough money for that effort.



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