I know that stealing is wrong. My Mother told me so. But I find it hard to reduce fashion plagiarism to a normative argument of "right" or "wrong," and here's why: Designer clothing is so very "You can look, but don't touch." So here we are, gals with a genetic predisposition toward cute clothes, fashionable styles and pretty dresses, looking and drooling at designer clothing from afar...but we're told not to eat of the fruit. Along comes Forever 21 and says, "Go ahead, pluck the apple!" as they dangle designer knock-offs in front of our noses.
The ability of copycats to so easily perform their evil deeds further complicates the issue. When my boyfriend covets a Porsche 911 Turbo, it's not like he (or a car manufacturer like Kia) can even come close to producing a reasonable facsimile of the object he desires. But with a dress, it's another story. To imitate (not reproduce) Fendi's color-block tiered frock above, one need only have access to fabric, a needle and some thread. OK, I know it's not that easy but let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you can construct a dress that comes pretty darn close (if you argue that Forever 21 can't make a similar reproduction, well then, we wouldn't be having this discussion.) Suddenly, it's the $2,500 price tag attached to the Fendi dress that starts to look like the crime.
But Mother also taught me that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should, and it certainly doesn't make it right. And since this is a blog, I'll leave it at that for now.
>> Left: Fendi Tri-Color Trapeze Dress at Net-A-Porter.com, $2,490
>> Right: Multi Tier Sleeveless Dress at Forever21.com, $32.80