This weekend, I stopped in to this exhibit, just to give it a look. I wasn't particularly inspired to see this one, as I have never had any particular feelings about copying garments, or the inevitable resulting "downward spiral of declining quality" it generates.
Now, in a time where digital images and original garments provide equipped copyists nearly immediate access to original designs, it is cheaper to pay off a settlement once sued than it is to buy a license.
This exhibit really did make me pause and think about that. When there is no legal protection of the investment of creative work, talent and research and development for the originating designer's enterprise, how do we protect them?
How do we support that work?
Does it even matter?
Of course, it does.
What's next, if there is no legal protection? My belief is that designers will continue to follow the lead of companies like Missoni, who satisfy new customers by offering highly affordable versions of their own designs to a wider market.
Here's what I see as an ENORMOUS problem we can't ignore. The exhibit specifically identifies the famous "Birkin" bag as a unique product on the market, since it's unusual closure is protected by trademark, and its easily identifiable shape gives it a place of its own in the marketplace.
Now, Google "Birkin knock- off" or "Fake Birkin", and see the enormous wave of sites you get.
We'll need a better solution, if there is one...