By now, you all have heard about the mad dash for the Missoni for Target collection. Missoni, an Italian fashion house features collections that normally retail for up to $8,000, but through a deal with Target, it made available a Missoni for Target collection that offered clothes for under $100. This week, shoppers were not only able to show that Black Friday can fall on a Wednesday in the middle of September, but were able to show the importance for fashion design protection.
Opponents against fashion design protection argue that providing an intellectual property right in fashion design will prohibit fashion from reaching those who can’t afford it. And I get it: We don’t want to create a society where the rich who can afford to buy a new wardrobe every season are able look more glamorous and fashionable just because they have more money to spend. Thus, the opponents argue, knock-offs democratize the fashion market because it allows those who don’t have a $50,000 fashion budget to be part of the current fashion trends without breaking the bank.
However, there are many reasons why designers should have an intellectual property right in their designs. One of the reasons is that not providing this right to designers prevents them from knocking off their own designs and widening their consumer base. One such designer who is in the business of knocking off her own designs is when Vera Wang, who will be selling duplicates of Kim Kardashian’s three wedding gowns for a fraction of the cost. Where Kim’s gowns probably cost over $100,000, a buyer who wants the same look will be able to buy Wang’s duplicates for $1,600 at David’s Bridal.
One reason why designers are now knocking off their own designs more frequently is because the down economy is forcing consumers to think longer before they spend, but another reason is because designers want to expand their consumer base. When companies like Forever 21 copy a designer’s collection, it takes this entire market away from the designer.
For now, companies can copy all they want, but I’m guessing soon enough, designers will finally be able to reap all that they sew.