Fashion designers play a significant role in the development of clothing designs and trends. Fashion designers have the freedom to copy each other to improve products or create similar products without any legal consequences. As a result, the fashion industry has become fluid and a competing field where new designs are easily replicated by other designers (Liao, 2017). Copyright protection on the film, music and software industry has significantly reduced the culture of copying because individuals can own music, software, and films which retains originality and authenticity of the products. This paper will assess a case study on the impact of the lack of copyright protection on the fashion retail and its implications on fashion culture.
Fashion designers have the highest freedom of copying from each other to create new products or improve on the existing products. There is a copying culture in the fashion industries that has led to the decline of high-end products and brands due to replication of the products. Most functional products such as fashion products there is no need of protection. In the fashion industry, only trademark protection exists, but the apparels are not protected which makes it easy to copy them and replicate similar product features on other trademarks. Fashion has been recognized as a utilitarian industry which does not require any protection because it would lead to a few individuals controlling what people wear. Despite the argument that the lack of ownership there is lack of innovation and creativity, it is different in the fashion industry due to the high creativity which has been enabled by the lack of copyright protection (Blakley, n.d.). Fashion designers have the power to be creative and to experiment using other designers products or concepts which has led to the development of trends which are easily outlived because a new designer comes up with another product.
The lack of protection in the fashion design has been a blessing and also a curse to many designers. High-end designs are easily threatened by designers who replicate their apparel to create knock-offs which are cheaper and sometimes even more appealing. The culture of copying has led to the emergence of a variety of clothing with something for everyone's taste. This has been made possible through the democratization of fashion, obsolesce of brands, and easy establishment of trending fashion lines (Blakley, n.d.). As a result of the culture of copying, the fashion industry economically is one of the best performing industries where startups can easily make money by copying from existing apparels. Therefore, creativity in the fashion industry is limitless thanks to minimal copyright protection. Besides, the culture of copying has made fashion designers to showcase more creativity to be able to overcome early obsolesce and ensure that their products trend in the market for longer. In the European Union, there is some extent of protection, but many fashion designers deem it unnecessary. Unlike other patented industries, the fashion industry is very lucrative economically and registers more sales. As such, in the case study, ownership is identified with low creativity, and the culture of copying in fashion allows for greater creativity.
I agree with Blakley (n.d.) conclusion that the culture of copying has played a significant role in the sustenance of fashion based on the utilitarian premise. The global fashion industry has been able to produce highly creative products compared to the protected copyright industry such as the automobile industry. Profits in the fashion industry are made possible due to the creativity of individual designers and the ability to borrow from other designers (Hemphill & Suk, 2008). The culture of copying is not bad for the fashion design, and instead, it is the primary determinant of the success enjoyed by many designers in the industry today. Art is not just functional as many perceive but it is an artistic and creative industry that can be able to attract stiff competition. Different consumers are appealed by different designs which ensure that every designer has a share of the market (Hemphill & Suk, 2008). Creativity in the fashion design does not rely on intellectual property protection but on the ability to copy different aspects of different models to create more trendy products that can be able to make a fortune for the designers before other designers can develop knock-offs (replicas). Adopting the fashion industry copying culture in other industries can significantly promote creativity and artistry by encouraging borrowing of ideas and offering consumer's greater choice.
Literature, music and fine art are examples of industries that are patented through the intellectual property law, but that does not indicate high creativity and financial success of the producers. The fashion industry should remain unprotected because it has proved that the lack of ownership of apparels promotes high creativity that is not enjoyed in many other industries that have patent protection. Fashion is, therefore, an essential approach for lawmakers to make creative models in other industries by eliminating the element of ownership which restricts creativity. The copying culture has ushered new brands such as Zara fashion brand which takes advantage of lack of copyright protection in the industry to create creative and trendy products. Therefore, it is agreeable that the lack of copyright protection in fashion improves creativity and financial outcomes of fashion designers.
Blakley, J. (n.d.). Lessons from fashion's free culture. TED Show. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture#t-916718
Hemphill, C. S., & Suk, J. (2008). The law, culture, and economics of fashion. Stan. L. Rev., 61, 1147.
Liao, S. (2017). Fashioning China: Precarious Creativity of Women Designers in Shanzhai Culture. Communication, Culture & Critique, 10(3), 422-440.
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