Celine SS14, September 2013.
The meteoric rise of the UK High Street has meant we’ve come to expect, even accept the inevitable seeping of ideas into the mainstream. Call it ‘homages’ ‘interpretations’ or ‘rip-offs’ they’ve become a part of every day life as we all try to find ready to wear alternatives to haute couture. But when is the creep beyond acceptable? When does it become insidious and sleazy? I’m no splatter blood expert but surely Primark are taking the piss with this latest offering…
The excuse often used is that copying is the sincerest form of flattery..it’s copied because it is relevant, well-liked and successful…but please explain this to the artisan seamstresses when they lose their jobs to virtual slave labour and industrial machines as these retail giants reduce all around them to lowest common denominator in their drive to make money.
They say they can’t steal away customers because the Designer Brands are something us mere mortal people can’t afford….So go on..make it un-special for us for those rare times when we can make the stretch and buy less but buy better.
But more to the point…this is a ‘rip-off’ of a current Celine Collection, one that’s only arriving in the shops now for a Spring that has yet to happen – will image-conscious women honestly want to buy these designer pieces if they think they’re going to be mistaken for wearing Primark? Take a step back..a Designer Fashion label is not a chorus of reverential whispers, it still has to make money to survive. The high prices it charges represent financial and emotional investment, labels using their money to grow the best talent with that rare ability to look at things in a thousand new ways and push boundaries. They also support teams of highly skilled individuals who are Masters of their Craft in sewing, embroidery, beadwork and much more besides (you only have to look at a behind the scenes video of Valentino to see what I mean) Skills that could be lost for ever if they aren’t valued and nurtured. Which means that if Celine’s sales are hit by ‘interpretations’ then these ‘copies’ are not only thieves in the night but they potentially damage future creativity as well.
Meanwhile Primark has no interest in being a brand with a proud sense of Self, they have no wish to win prizes for originality or innovation but instead act like a selfish adolescent: What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine, greedily sucking the life-blood from creative hearts like commercial vampires, their only concern being the ripe size of their profits.
So what’s a luxury brand to do? Is a raised eyebrow tempered with sarcasm enough? No. They really need to stand up and stop the ripping-off-machine raping the risk-takers and the blue-sky thinkers. As much as it’s a feminine label, I’d love Pheobe Philo to grow balls and slap an injunction on Primark for their pure audacity and say enough is enough. Which sounds great. Except for the slow, complicated, highly expensive legal system that makes this a virtual impossibility.
Is there another solution?
Yes – Change the outdated, outmoded spectacle of the ‘Season in advance’ of the Fashion Show Timetable that spectacularly hands over, tied up with the most beautiful bows possible, every designers hard fought for ideas and effectively gifts them to their parasitic enemies with a clear six months to ‘homage’ at leisure the very best of the best. There is no other industry that would put up with this outrage – so why does the Fashion Industry?
Laters, Kate x