Never-ending, always popular, especially now, while the "Aquazzura-Trump sandal case" is still bubbling hot. No wonder, Business of Fashion produced an article discussing copycats born on the high street and their impact on fashion and designers' wellbeing. Yes, there was some truth in it. Yes, copying somebody else's work is a disgrace whichever way you look at it. Yet, I found it very unfair that the finger was pointed at high street and high street alone.
What is high street, really? It's a place where most of us, including people who love and know about fashion and those who simply want to put something on, would shop once in a while. A lot of high street regulars would not even know that a skirt they hold in their hands was inspired by Celine, Lanvin, Alaia or Helmut Lang. Lets be honest, many would not even know half of these names - not because they are oblivious, but because for them there's a meaningful life outside a small circle of fashion. When shopping these women would react is the product and the fit following a simple desire to feel good in what they wear, look good in what they wear and reflect their perception of today's style through what they wear.
We shop on the high street because we want beautiful things, but unlike a few privileged folks, will never be able to freely acquire a £3000 dress - and frankly, with the quality often declining beyond belief there's a constant doubt in spending big bucks on things that aren't worth it. Yet, buying a trendy Chloe or Gucci-inspired little dress from Mango or Zara for thirty quid is like a little moment of fashion bliss - not because "it's so like Chloe/Gucci", but simply because it's pretty, inexpensive and brilliant for summer.
True, high street would often produce a few really good pieces mirroring the runway best-sellers, which isn't right. But my point is that blaming high street and choosing not to discuss the runway isn't exactly the solution to entertain.
First of all, a high street piece to a designer original is like a poster of Mona Lisa to the actual Da Vinci painting. Everyone knows what they are getting. They know what it's going to cost and how long it's going to last. Saying that the poster is destroying the value of Da Vinci is the same thing as claiming that the high street would destroy a value of the fashion brand. If anything - it will make the brand known to a wider audience, which can possibly improve, and not negatively affect, the profits.
On the other hand, anyone would accept the fact that an artist who paints a portrait closely resembling the real Mona Lisa and selling it as his own masterpiece is wrong: nobody should pretend to be Shakespeare, Van Gogh or Alaia because all these people are unique and what they produce was or is also one of a kind. So why Business of Fashion is not addressing a simple truth that fashion collections often resemble each other in a manner of identical twins and yet presented as something unique to each brand. Even worse, while blaming the high street for every sin under the sun, they go completely quiet when it comes to picking on the similarities seeing on the runway.
So my question is... What is more destroying to fashion - a few high street things popping here and there and openly discussed as knock-offs or expensive and meant-to-be limited to the selected few pieces that resemble Alaia, Prada, Versace, Jil Sander or Helmut Lang and praised for being "fashion forward"? As long as we only address a part of the problem that suits big advertising budgets and doesn't address the issue in its core, the high street will continue doing what they are doing simply following the "big leaders"...
Granted, I am not a fashion insider. Not at all. I am... an observer. And so I sit here quietly and observe the world of fashion as it goes by. My spot comes without VIP tickets and privileges, but unlike the fashion crowd I feel free to express my thoughts honestly and give you a few examples spotted on a runway season after season and yet never highlighted in the press and official reviews. While at it, enjoy Skream's Copy Cat tune used by Nicolas Ghesquiere in his first Vuitton show - be warned, it's addictive...
Jil Sander Spring/Summer 2010 VS Loewe Spring/Summer 2015
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2004 VS Mary Katrantzou Spring/Summer 2015
Christian Dior by John Galliano Fall/Winter 1996 VS Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2013, here on Karlina Caune photographed by Quentin De Briey and styled by Ana Tovar for Vogue Spain 2013
Shalom Harlow in Atelier Versace photographed by Irving Penn for Glorious Traditions / Vogue December 1995 VS Prada Spring/Summer 2010
Valeria Mazza in Atelier Versace 1990s VS Stella McCartney Fall/Winter 2011
Amber Valletta in Hever Leger 1996 photographed by Joergen Teller & styled by Camilla Nickerson for i-D 1996 VS Celine Spring/Summer 2015
Vogue Brazil 1977 VS Prada Spring/Summer 2004
Gianni Versace suit in Elle US September 1995 VS Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2013
Geoffrey Beene Fall/Winter 2004 VS Celine Fall/Winter 2013
Azzedine Alaia dress worn by Tina Turner VS Roberto Cavalli Spring/Summer 2016
Andre Courreges 1970 VS Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2015
Stephanie Seymour in Versace Fall/Winter 1993 photographed by Richard Avedon VS Daks Fall/Winter 2014
Prada Fall/Winter 2011 VS Burberry Prorsum Spring/Summer 2015
Prada Fall/Winter 2013 VS Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2016
Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2015 VS Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2016
Helmut Lang Spring/Summer 2001 VS Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2016
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2006 VS Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2016
Prada Spring/Summer 2009 VS Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2016
Ralph Lauren Spring/Summer 2015 VS Lacoste Spring/Summer 2016
Celine Spring/Summer 2015 VS Edun Spring/Summer 2016
Photo source: Hanne Gabi Odiele & Juliana Schurig in Graphics Gone Wild / Vogue Japan March 2013 (photography: Giampaolo Sgura, styling: Anna Dello Russo), collections via Vogue Runway & Livingly, Karlina Caune photographed by Quentin De Briey and styled by Ana Tovar for Vogue Spain 2013, Shalom Harlow in Atelier Versace photographed by Irving Penn for Glorious Traditions / Vogue December 1995, Amber Valletta in Hever Leger 1996 photographed by Joergen Teller & styled by Camilla Nickerson for i-D 1996, Andre Courreges design in Vogue Paris 1970, Stephanie Seymour in Versace Fall/Winter 1993 photographed by Richard Avedon