Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla think plagiarism is a disturbing trend Image: Fotocorp
After Rohit Bal shamed his plagiarist on social media, several other celebrated Indian fashion designers spoke up on the issue of copying couture. "These creatures are completely despicable thick skin rhinos, completely shameless. Unfortunately, the way the patenting laws work in country, they are not very favourable. It's long and tedious (fight)," Rohit Bal had told IANS talking about his run-in with copycats.
Bal had taken to Instagram to name designer Seema Mehta for one of her creations, which he said had resemblance to his summer/resort 2016 collection. He also targeted Chandni Chowk boutique Asiana Couture for "blatant plagiarism" when he realised the store was selling copies of his work for a while.
The copycats, though, point fingers back at the designers, suggesting their high-priced designs lead to plagiarism. "You tell me one designer who is selling a bridal line at Rs 20,000 or Rs 30,000?" asked a Chandni Chowk shopkeeper on conditions of anonymity. "In India, wedding is a big market but the entire population is not born rich to afford wedding lehengas worth lakhs or more. Keeping that gap in mind, we fulfill the dreams of those people who want to look beautiful at an affordable price. What's the harm?"
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Designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla think that the problem is deeper. "Plagiarism is an open secret and something every designer has had to deal with," said Abu Jani. His contention is that something worse is going on within the fashion industry. "We need to be far more vigilant when it comes to plagiarism within the high fashion industry. If known names can rip off our work, it's only obvious that fly by night operators will," Abu told IANS.
"What is particularly disturbing is the number of 'designers' who copy other designers and don't get called out by either the media or the fashion bodies. Instead, they are celebrated and allowed to ride on the talent and hard work of others," he rued.
He may have a point there as, earlier this year, textile revivalist Gaurang Shah had accused newcomer Shailesh Singhania of showcasing "exact replicas" of his 2012 creations.
Sandeep thinks that the market for replicas won't vanish any time soon. "There will always be enough people who have no qualms about wearing and carrying fakes. It's the nature of the beast. Fortunately there will also always be people who want the finest quality and original design and are prepared to pay for that. Couture cannot be affordable. It is a luxury, limited edition product," he put forth his point.
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About the mass market needs, Sandeep says there are plenty of prêt-a-porter labels out there, which are stylish, affordable and made by talented designers who cater to such a market.