Big Brands, Small Ideas
Original dress by Kloset Envy
By Anna Konen
The feeling that comes with making something completely by yourself, with your own two hands, creativity, and unique passion for what you are designing is one that is unmatched. As the years go on, it seems that there are little to no original ideas, particularly in the fashion industry. This means that when an original idea is curated, often by a smaller brand, it is preyed upon by big brands stealing ideas from these underdogs.
A prime example of this is the disgraced fast fashion brand, Shein. From the dawn of their creation, Shein has been known and praised for having cheap remakes of usually expensive clothes. Although this concept sounds clever, Shein is taking business from hard-working boutique owners, who are passionate about the wearable art they are creating. With no credit and lack of compensation, these small and independent designers are rightfully upset, and yearning for a solution.
Shein is not the first, and certainly not the last, to be caught stealing designs from other brands. Even luxury brands fall victim to this plagiarism. In 2012, Christian Louboutin lost a battle against Zara defending their classic and trademarked red sole shoe. Although the iconic red sole is trademarked and has been since 2008, the luxury brand has lost multiple lawsuits to brands from the aforementioned Zara to fellow luxury brand YSL. Trademarking in fashion has always been a touchy subject, which is why so many brands can get away with stealing ideas and claiming them as their own.
Another Example of this thievery is the lengthy dispute between Kloset Envy and Fashion Nova. Kloset Envy – a small single women owned company, proved that Fashion Nova would buy clothes from her brand, copy the designs and patterns, and then return these pieces to her warehouse. That is right, they were not even trying to be sly about it. Fashion Nova is infamous for stealing these designs and shows little remorse about it. Not only are they carelessly taking these designs, but there is also a common theme of Fashion Nova stealing explicitly from designers of color, who are already suppressed within the industry. Most recently, the brand was slammed and called out for a copy and pasted idea from small brand Hanifa in late 2022.
Last but certainly not least of our culprits is Instagram blogger Danielle Bernstein of the brand We Wore What. Danielle got her start as one of the OG Instagram bloggers in the early 2010s but her original ideas seem to have gone by the wayside. Bernstein has been caught in nearly every controversy imaginable from photoshop to you guessed it- stealing other designers' ideas. In this example, Bernstein walked the line of admiration and piracy too closely. Diet Prada, an Instagram account devoted to exposing theft of ideas, put Bernstein on blast for stealing Cecilie Bahnsen’s Design. In an Instagram photo, Bernstein is pictured with Cecilie in Bahnsen’s design and not even a month later, she releases a design that is the exact same, just varied in hue.
The examples are plenty and the frustration is angering. Whether it be a luxury brand that is smaller in size than a gargantuan brook and mortar fast fashion brand or an independent designer having their ideas taken by a well-known Instagram blogger, plagiarism is running rampant in the industry. Creativity is hard, and not for everyone, it is normal to draw inspiration from designers you admire in silhouette and other elements, but creating the exact same thing and being arrogant enough to think that no one will notice? That is just plain old ignorance.