Giorgio Armani Realizes That Fashion Copying Isn't A Bad Thing
from the good-for-him dept
For many, many years, we’ve pointed to the fashion industry as a great example of a creative industry that thrives despite widespread “piracy” and greatly reduced intellectual property rights. Contrary to what copyright maximalists claim will happen in the absence of such copyrights, the fashion industry is highly competitive, highly innovative and highly creative. Also, contrary to the maximalists’ claims, it hasn’t “devalued” the creators at all. In fact, it’s only helped to increase the value of original works by the best designers. The copycats have actually pumped up their value, rather than decreased it.
Research has shown that it’s because of this lack of IP that the industry has been able to thrive. That’s because it does a few things: the copycats help spread the word about the designs, getting them spread to a much wider audience than the high end fashion designers would alone. On top of that, it increases the value of authentic works by those top designers, since the reputation increases the overall value. Finally, the rapid copying pushes designers to keep innovating and keep bringing out new things, so that they’re always seen on the cutting edge — ahead of the copiers.
Despite all of this, some in the industry have been pushing for special new copyrights for fashion, and have even found some politicians willing to support the idea — despite clear evidence that it’s not needed (the highly competitive, highly innovative industry that exists) and research suggesting such a right would significantly harm the industry.
That’s why it’s interesting to see this Time magazine interview with Giorgio Armani (sent in by an anonymous reader), which relies on questions submitted by Time readers. Two of the questions deal with issues concerning “copying” of designs — and Armani seems to recognize quite clearly the value of copying, and laughs off the idea of suing anyone for copying a design. The only downside he sees is when his designs are counterfeited with the Giorgio Armani label — which is something we agree with. That’s what trademark is supposed to protect: consumer confusion over someone pretending to be a brand that they are not. Otherwise, he seems quite happy to recognize the benefits of copying in the industry:
Does the Armani brand suffer a lot of damage because of counterfeit products? David Remenyik, BUDAPEST
Personally, I think counterfeit products are good because their existence shows that we create something people want to copy. Professionally, it causes big problems because it creates products with your name on them that are not controlled by you.
You recently accused Dolce & Gabbana of copying one of your designs. Do you plan to pursue this claim in court? Alice Goodman, SYDNEY
No. This happened at the end of a small press conference. One of my colleagues brought me a photo of this pair of pants. I said, very nonchalantly, “Look–great designers like Dolce & Gabbana copy us!” I was joking, it was not serious, but naturally the press picked up on it and splashed it all over the headlines.
Hopefully, other designers will start to recognize that this view makes sense. Having someone copy your work is a good thing, and let’s hope this recognition begins spreading to other industries as well.