I see it everyday. Brilliant designers that work so hard, only to have their designs replicated, stolen, bootlegged. As a designer, I comply to a code of Ethics, that I know helps differentiate my shoes from others.
This is an issue that every independent designer faces. When we grab all our sketches, and try to let the world know what we’re creating, and the talent we have, we are all terrified that someone might come along and steal it up from under us. We are all afraid that our ideas and hard work will be tossed away, and that someone else will reap from our benefits. There is a fine line between inspiration and replication
In the fashion industry, we look to forecasters and style experts for the latest trends, styles and colors of the season. This makes it very easy for designers to create similar looks, because they’re all based on the same outline. What differentiates these designers? Their creativity, vision and pattern.
In garment design, your foundation is your aesthetic. It’s tough for garment designers to have their work completely copyrighted because their designs change drastically every season, based on what is “in”. The smartest thing that I’ve seen done by fashion designers is “Classic Collections”. The classic collection is the initial designer collection that will live through every season, and
introduce the main aesthetic of their design. It is so unique, that every time they create a seasonal collection, the designer will use significant patterns from their classic collection and recreate them, to develop an ongoing trend that will differentiate them from others.
An example of this is one of our designers Dareyna Swan, with Swarey Designs. Her initial collection was somewhat her classic collection, the launch of her line. She used similar patterns in her newer collection, but recreated them, keeping her aesthetic and letting people know what her creative mind consists of. Sharp lines and edge in all her pieces. Whether it’s a feminine floral pattern, or a bold black in your face sharp look, the aesthetic simply says “SWAREY”.
Blueprint and Pattern:
Taking it over to shoe designing which I know a lot about. In footwear design, your blue print is your last. A last is a form that approximates the shape of the human foot. It is also the foundation in which footwear designs are built on. Then comes the pattern. Patterns, in footwear can be broken up in the shape of a sandal, peep toe, d’orsay, bootie, boot, etc. The designer has their specific last and pretty much alters the heel, outer design and material that is being used on the shoe.
Shoes are among the most replicated fashion designs in the world. The reason being, is that footwear designers look to the Premiere companies for inspiration, and then try and replicate their product, leaving out the “designer trend” so they wont violate any copyright laws. A prime example is the new shoe collection from Steve Madden. Steve Madden replicates the shape (last) and design of the Christian Louboutin collection, but leave out the signature red soles, that are an obvious trademark and idiosyncrasy of Christian Louboutin shoes. This enables him to sell the product and market it as Steve Madden. All his collections are inspirations of the top designer brands.
Bespoke garment design is the art of creating a custom made garment specifically made to order for an individual. The garment can and most likely will consist of a similar aesthetic of the designer, but will have significant changes, as requested by the individual who the garment is being made for. A standard outfit that is produced as ready-to-wear, but outfitted with applicays and studding (i.e. feathers, beads, crystals, etc..) is NOT considered bespoke.
Bespoke Shoemaking is the art of creating a shoe by hand for a specific individual. In the footwear industry, It is ONLY considered bespoke when a shoe maker personally applies the leather/fabrics, heel and sole onto the last, and sews the pattern together by hand. It is a 100% handmade item. It is fraudulent for a shoe designer to claim they are bespoke if any part of the shoe is created in a factory, or otherwise purchased. Applying studs to a shoe by hand will in no way give anyone the right to call themselves a bespoke designer.
Fraudulent Claims and Counterfeiting Designs
A counterfeit item is any good, service, or material that is presented with intent of passing off as an authentic article.
Counterfeiters abuse the trust between producers and consumers in an economy. Counterfeiters sell their merchandise without the right to use copyrighted names or paying business and sales taxes. Counterfeiters traffic their merchandise devoid of any service to the public welfare. They only serve their own interests.
The most popular industry in which counterfeiting occurs is clothing, shoes and textile. Manufacturing exact copies of items in the clothing industry is easier than in any other. Slapping labels on other designer products, and misrepresenting brands is a unlawful, yet popular practice. Many times it is done by amateur designers, who don’t fully understand the dynamics of the industry.
I see this all the time. Everyone is creative, everyone has an idea, and if they can turn their idea into a product, good for them! There are rules, regulations and laws that everyone must obey. For instance, as I previously discussed, claiming that you are a bespoke designer, when you are only altering patterns to ready-made shoes or adding applicays to ready made garments, is illegal, and immoral.
Accessories designers. Yes, accessories are replicated all the time. It’s a bit different in your case. There is no law claiming that you can not put your logo on an accessory you created, no matter how much it resembles something that is already on the market. The only time you need to be extremely careful is when ordering product. Accessories designers need to ensure that the product they are ordering does not consist of any other designer labels. Also, when ordering bags that you propose to put your label on, please ensure you contact your manufacturer and make sure they are not exact replicas of designer handbags/watches/belts. That can get you in a serious amount of legal trouble.
Now lets go a little bit deeper. Ever since Ayeshah and I have gone full throttle into helping designers create their brands, Just Off 7th Ave! has seen so much talent everywhere. What matters to me the most is the protection of the creative designs our designers work hard to protect, promote and sell. It concerns me when I see designer products being mis-used and misrepresented.
There is a huge difference between altering a ready-made product from another designer, and creating a similar product based on inspiration. If I have a Calvin Klien T-Shirt and I apply beads and studs to it, it is still a Tshirt designed, and created by Calvin Klein. It is still his product, re-invented by me. Proper credit LEGALLY needs to be given to the designer.
Now, if I contacted a manufacturer and told him to create basic white tees per my specifications, and handed him my label and had that label manufactured on to those tees, and then I applied my studding and beads to it, I can legally call that my design.
It is illegal to stick your label on to another designer’s item and claim it as yours, its is especially illegal, and punishable by law to resell that product under false representation as one of your designs.
Same thing goes for shoes. If you are a wholesale buyer of shoes, and purchase pairs with the intent to alter them and sell them as your design, then you are breaking hundreds of laws, and could be sued, and face jail time. This is what private label is for. There are plenty of companies that have “Private Label” options, where they provide you with a list of generic shoe designs without a label, that can be fitted and specifically labeled with your company logo. You can then take these shoes, apply all your creative embroidery and claim them as yours. This ofcourse is obviously more expensive, but is rightfully pricier since the designer of the shoe is not recieving credit for their product. Slapping your label onto someone else’s design, without legal documentation, credit and approval of specific designer or company will result in a major lawsuit.
Here at Just Off 7th Ave! we take pride in protecting our designers and will blacklist and report anyone we feel is partaking in illegal activities that can affect our designers brand and business.
As a shoe designer, I started off outfitting shoes with applicays, crystals, studs, and embroidery. Never did I once claim they were my design. Everytime I used anyone’s shoe brand, I gave proper credit to them. When I wanted to sell my product, I looked into all legal matters and made sure I was not breaking any laws. I then decided that I wanted to be a “Footwear Designer”, and went about creating sketches, and educating myself on how to take my product from paper to the real thing. I studied hard, and worked hard and created prototypes in bespoke (yes, hand and hammer, leather and sewing machine and all that jazz.) once my product was somewhat ready, I found a manufacturer and sat down with them, my sketches and prototypes in hand, and recreated new prototypes as well. From there, I went through the long process of approving, remaking and recreating my designs, legally copyrighting and protecting my company, until 2 years later, when my product was 100% ready for show. All my own. This is a tough, long process, that Ayeshah and I have been trying to simplify, and help designers get through, whether its accessories, garments or footwear.
I’m sure every designer can appreciate this post, and I just want all of you to understand that we will protect you and fight off frauds. We respect you all and all your hard work and will work very hard in keeping the integrity of your product intact.
Independent Designers On a Mission!
Here is a link to a designer scam, a prime example of what I’m talking about.