March 06, 2011

Knock Off News and Ethics

I spotted these See by Chloé-mirrored prints at a fast fashion boutique on Haight St. in San Fransisco. Imagine the price points and stock of a mom and pop version of Forever 21. It is possible that they use similar supply chains so maybe they will end up there or at Francesca's Collections or one of the other similar spots?

Above are See by Chloé pieces featuring the prints. The poly-blend of the knock off dresses make them markedly different from silk and wool fabrications. But still. And yesterday reader Maggie May alerted me to Forever 21's Trompe L'oeil knock off of the Marc by Marc Jacobs cardigan I posted (from the Spring 2010 collection).

The Forever 21 version is on the left with MBMJ on the right.

It got me thinking again about the ethics of inspiration. I can't deny that it bums me out to find knock offs of pieces I e-stalked and bought (usually at a significant discount). On some level it makes the time I spent tracking something down feel wasteful. But I also realize it isn't simple or cut and dry. References and inspired pieces are everywhere. Keeping up on who referenced who can be daunting and time-consuming. It'd be one thing if fashion was my job, but it will always be my silly hobby.  I also don't have the finances to buy every original piece I covet. Knowing where to draw the line becomes even more challenging when so many brands create their own cheaper, "diffusion line" versions of expensive, coveted pieces (Mulberry for Target is one example). Where do you draw the line? Do you draw a line or think about knock offs?

For example, last season I almost bought the Brief Meeting Blazer from Anthropologie which was a pretty direct Elizabeth and James knock off. When I found the Elizabeth and James original in a Nordstrom Rack for about the price of the Anthro version, I passed again. When something I want is knocked off at a mass retailer it kind of kills my desire for the original (along with my desire for the cheaper version, Two Paths Trench coat notwithstanding).What are your thoughts on buying obviously inspired pieces?


joelle van dyne said...

i shy away from things that seem like a direct knockoff to me- like the examples here. i still remember my 1st DVF (a celosa) for which i saved for quite awhile years ago... and then it being immediately knocked off by f21 right after i finally bought it. i was really bummed. however, it is a slippery slope, because there are times i find myself hoping that someone will make an 'inspired by' version of something i love but can't afford.

Astrid said...

I don't have a huge problem with F21 and their knockofffs. At least, when they knock off big designers. For the most part, I don't think the target market is really the same. For one, F21 has such atrocious quality, I wouldn't even think about buying that MBMJ knockoff sweater, it looks terrible. People like us, who obsessively stalk highend pieces until they come down to a price we can afford and then POUNCE are really in the minority of consumers. People who buy high end clothes at full or near full price, wouldn't buy a knockoff from F21 instead. If anything, it helps make trends burn out quicker so designers can present the newest big thing to the public.

What I do have a problem with is F21 ripping off smaller and more independent designers who don't already have a name for themselves. Its super shady and F21 is so powerful, they really have no plans for stopping and the small designers can't do anything about it.

erin said...

i don't know... i'm on the fence about knockoffs, but i'm definitely guilty of buying and wearing them :/ i tend to feel less guilty if i am nowhere near the scope of the original's clientele base (ie $$$$), but yeah it sucks to see indie designers knocked off. that said, i've posted about this before i think on bco, but foley & corinna definitely "borrowed" from a lot of vintage patterns (i have a vintage dress they did an EXACT copy of the pattern) and i'm pretty sure stuff like that isn't copyrighted, at least vintage stuff... so i really feel a lot of things have already been done/copied/reinvented.. and who's to say who originated it?

Steph said...

I have to agree with Astrid. People who buy designer labels are- most likely- not shopping at F21 or other retailers of the like. So, the companies who are knocking off these exclusive designer creations are doing so for a different demographic.

Tricia Mickelsen Thomas said...

I don't mind knockoff's too much although sometimes it bugs me. I will say this when I spend the $ on a designer piece (the 2 I own) I buy them for the quality and the fit I know that although places like F21 and Ruche can make knockoff's the fit and quality are not there!!


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