Emily Harris looks at how famous names often exploit lesser-known designers, and how far ‘taking inspiration’ can be stretched.
Since its debut at Milan Fashion Week, Moschino’s SS19 Collection has been on the firing line following suspicion of Jeremy Scott ripping off designs from London based designer, Edda Gimnes.
Gimnes claims that the scribble illustration pattern and design constructs were reminiscent of looks she had shown a member of the fashion house one year earlier. Gimnes took to Facebook and Instagram to bring light to the scandal, posting comparison photos of her own pieces alongside Moschino’s runway photos. The photos show startling similarities between the designs shared by Gimnes with a member of the Moschino team, from the pattern right down to the colour scheme. In her statement, Gimnes expresses deep disappointment towards Moschino’s failure to award due credit and believes that they were sure their act would “go unnoticed” by a “vulnerable” young designer.
However, Moschino released their own statement discarding Gimnes’ claims, instead claiming that their own previous collections had been inspiration for the design used. The sketch print is called a “trompe – l’œil” that Moschino maintained had been a “long-standing motif” used in the brand throughout the years, and merely formed a part of the “incomplete forms” theme that Jeremy Scott chose for the designs this season. Gimnes then released a deflated counter-statement stating that she will not “waste [her] time nor [her] energy on this matter” any longer. Therefore, it seems no further action will be taken and the powerhouse will not be under the threat of another lawsuit.
This is not the first time that Jeremy Scott has been accused of plagiarising designs without consent. In February AW13, his runway show received backlash from Santa Cruz Skateboards, who accused him of using the work of artist Jim Phillips without the consent of the company or the Phillips family. As a result, Scott issued a statement apologising for using imagery that was “similar” to Jim Phillips’ and subsequently pulled the collection “out of respect to their work and their rights”. Additionally, in his biggest scandal to date, Scott’s AW15 collection resulted in Moschino facing legal action. Joseph Tierney, a graffiti artist who goes by the name of “RIME”, accused the creative director of copying his renowned mural “Vandal Eyes”, forging his signature and using his name on the clothing apparel.
The difficulty within the fashion and design industry seems to be finding balance on the wispy thread between inspiration and plagiarism. Alongside Moschino, Dior and Roberto Cavalli are two other luxury fashion labels that have faced plagiarism charges in the past. However, it is not just the high-end labels that we should be watchful of, as high street brands Zara and H&M have also been charged with or accused of plagiarising designs without being licensed to do so.
Luckily for independent designers, the notorious Instagram page @diet_prada was created in 2014 by fashion lovers Lindsey Schuyler and Tony Liu to mercilessly expose design theft. When coming head to head with the mighty fashion institutions, garnering public support through social media platforms is essential for “vulnerable” young artists, designers and small businesses, who may not have the resources (or the nerve) to take on the fashion giants. A page such as @diet_prada is there to remind the powerhouses that fashion is for the many and not the few, and will not be monopolised.
There is a paradox in the fact that through social media platforms, particularly Instagram, huge names can easily scope out the work of smaller businesses and recreate them unnoticed, as the rapid reposting and redistributing of digital images often leads to the loss of artistic credit. However, there must be consciousness towards protecting the talent of independent designers, so that there can be a future of fashion that is not dictated by the mighty high-end brands.
By Emily Harris