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Mode De Vie With Olamide Is the 'Copy' culture amongst designers really a form of flattery?

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery but a few fashion designers have taken 'copying' and pasting to another level, should this go on?

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A few fashion designers have come under serious attacks in recent times after getting 'inspired' to create pieces from other brands and this debacle has gone on endlessly.

Truth be told a lot of these designers have outrightly copied (seemingly so) from others and passed them off as theirs! That in plain term is theft (intellectual property theft)! Now sadly, there's no copyright law in place (yet) to protect people and their brand's property from being copied/ripped off and that's given a lot of designers the liberty to continue with this.

Social media and online resources have brought this circle of recycled bit to the fore in recent time, with designers able to compare the similarities (most times glaringly so) between a piece and the other.

ALSO READ: Do Nigerian fashion brands have to be pricey to be taken seriously?

Fashion play

Designers have copied each other blatantly in recent times

(African Print In Fashion)


A lot of brands/people behind them have been called out because thankfully social media has helped to amplify this -though it hasn't particularly provided a way out- except for the fact that the 'other designer' is seen as a 'copycat' which taints the brand (except on occasions where the designs are not badly interpreted and  come inexpensive, leaving someone else profiting from another's creation and that's really unfair)

Designer's muse has been in the news in recent times for copying designs off international brands including Gucci with her designs having glaring similarities with the brands but interestingly well adapted with her creation coming off exquisitely tailored but does this make it right?

I interviewed a 'designer' recently and unashamedly declared (when she was asked how she gets inspired to design) "yes I copy, we all copy", designs are all over the place on Google (I paraphrased the latter part of her answer but NOT the former! She admitted to copying other people's designs without a regard for the intellectual work they put in).

ALSO READ: 5 things Nigerian designers are getting wrong in their presentation [Pt. 1]

Ulyana Sergenko, Muse Factory play

A piece from Ulyana Sergenko (L) feature glaring similarities with Muse Factory's piece (R)



I was once told that if you're able to make at least six changes on an otherwise 'copied' design then you've created yours but these days designers rip off others without fear/without bothering to alter any detail! They just copy and paste!

A plus size womenswear brand was in the news recently when another designer called out one of the pieces in her collection featuring glaring similarities between his work and hers. Toju Foyeh's piece was recently called out for its striking similarity to an Ashi Studio piece.

Ashi Studio play

A piece from Ashi Studio



Toju Foyeh play

Toju Foyeh in a piece made by her with striking similarities with a piece from Ashi Studio



Foremost designers Lisa Folawiyo and Maki Oh were also caught in a similar tussle months back when their designs appeared with similarities and these are just few cases.

ALSO READ: Why Nigerian designers should have a diffusion line

A lot of the 'fast rising' designers have ripped off designers from bigger brands and in some cases the bigger brands have ripped from the unknown ones and so on but where should a line be drawn?

Celine is copied a lot by other brands where Zara has been dragged to court over time for copying designs. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery but should those who copy without a regard for the other party's intellectual struggle and goes on to make more than the actual owner be let lose?

Lisa Folawiyo, Maki Oh play

A piece from Lisa Folawiyo's S/S17 and one from Maki Oh's Fall 16 collection feature similar details



Getting inspiration around is not a bad thing to be honest, but imitating another and passing it off as inspiration is WRONG! Though fashion designers copying others' design (it happens globally) is not news anymore but isn't that making the industry one for the uninspired?

Sadly there is no trademark or law in place to deal with this just yet but something will give. But when talking about collections; pieces presented across runways, shown via lookbooks etc where your creativity is supposed to be celebrated and you choose to make a show of someone else's copied work is that really wise?

ALSO READ: Maison Margiela makes a STRONG case for not following every trend you see!

"If you are good, you're going to be copied. It's just part of the game" Julie Zerbo lawyer and founder of 'The Fashion Law' says it just apt.

I say don't copy, be copied!

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