Design theft in fashion is a tricky business. How does the law define copyright when it comes to clothes? Is it if a designer uses the same print as another designer? Or is it the shape? The material? Most likely it's a mix of everything.
Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, whose famous 70s wrap dress has been copied for decades, has now unintentionally become a design thief.
A Toronto fashion label called Mercy, is getting an undisclosed sum from the designer, for ripping off the design of a floral jacket.
Here is a comparison of the two jackets (DVF on the left, Mercy on the right):
It's ironic that von Furstenberg, who is trying to create legislation called The Design Piracy Prohibition Act, is guilty of the same infraction that she is trying to stop.
Richard Lyle, one of the Mercy designers said: "That jacket had our fingerprints all over it. The little design gestures that are on the inside."
The DVF version ran in the Spring 2009 collection and is selling for $1000, while Mercy's version is selling for $300.
While I do see some similarities in the two jackets, most noticeably the sash with the bow and the short sleeves with the elastic hem, I feel that I have seen this jacket before.
I think that DVF's version is more of an inspired version of Mercy's, not outright theft. So where does one draw the line between inspired and theft?
However I do believe that Mercy's win is good for the fashion industry. There are too many retailers who are blatantly ripping off designers (big and small) and getting away with it.
See examples here, here and here. And there are many, many more.
So tell me: Is the DVF jacket a blatant knock-off or is just similar? And what do you consider a knock off?
For more copyright information and news, visit Counterfeit Chic.
(Photo: Toronto Star)