One of the reasons I like twitter so much is because I get to read a constant stream of news from all over. And since I make jewelry, I follow a lot of fashion related news tweets. One of the stories that caught my interest recently is about a brewing “fight” between Vena Cava and Alice + Olivia, two relatively young and cool brands. Vena Cava accused Alice + Olivia of copying one of their prints from the 2012 collection. (read the full story here). This is the print in question (photo courtesy of www.racked.com), with the one on the right belonging to Vena Cava and Alice + Olivia on the left.
But are these original prints to begin with? Its not. Both designers both admit that they were inspired by other prints when they came up with these dresses, one by a vintage dress owned by one of the designers and the other by a vintage wall screen.
The idea of being copied is something we all have to contend with but its especially true in the case of designers. Creating a piece of art, or jewelry, or clothing is in a lot of ways a very personal matter. It involves putting a lot of oneself in each piece which makes the issue of being copied really personal in turn. But how can you protect yourself and your ideas from being copied? Having an online presence makes it even easier to be copied because your designs are out there for all the world to see. Unless you’re name is Gucci or Chanel (and even Chanel doesn’t manage to win all its trademark battles as this story shows), its very hard to trademark something you’ve created. Legal and financial difficulties aside, how can you prove that your design is really yours and is truly original? Is anything ever truly original and born without being influenced by something else?
This is something I think about long and often. I like to think that what I create is truly original and one of a kind. I take pride in the fact that no two pieces are the same and once something has sold, I cannot repeat the same piece. So you get an original in that way. But I’m also endlessly inspired by so many other artists and just about everything can be an inspiration. These influences can’t help but filter through in my work. I suppose I draw the line at taking someone’s design or idea and replicating it exactly or so close to the original as to be almost indistinguishable. Is this a good line to draw? Or does it leave too much leeway? I don’t know. What I do know is that I can (and should) get inspired but I won’t ever copy.
Now did Alice + Olivia copy Vena Cava? They’re certainly very similar to each other. But maybe its a really popular look or color scheme because look at this dress I just got from a recent trip..
At least mine has ribbons in it!