Karachista: Copycat designers caught in the act!

Published: May 24, 2013
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Are Pakistani designers compensating for a lack of originality by appropriating other people’s designs? PHOTO: FILE

Are Pakistani designers compensating for a lack of originality by appropriating other people’s designs? PHOTO: FILE

Mughal’s crowns are just like the ones used by Dolce & Gabbana. Aamna Aqeel seems to have been inspired by Balmain for some shorts in her SS2013 collection. Oxford-grad Salima Feerasta is a social commentator and lover of style in any form or fashion. She blogs at karachista.blogspot.com and tweets @karachista Are Pakistani designers compensating for a lack of originality by appropriating other people’s designs? PHOTO: FILE
KARACHI: 

He’s done it again. Copycat-spotting blogger Aamir Bukhari has come up with a new set of inspirations and imitations by Pakistani designers, but this time, it’s from the runway. His blog aamiriat.wordpress.com has now put top designers Karma and Elan in the firing line, amongst others.

Aamir certainly has an eye for spotting similarities. He broke the story of one of SanaSafinaz’s 2013 lawn designs being inspired by a pair of Zara pants. He also reported SanaSafinaz’s use of a Pucci print, Gul Ahmed’s homage to vintage YSL and many more. It’s a talent to be able to spot close copies from amongst the hundreds of fashion images out there, and Aamir is particularly good at it.

His latest blog entry is startling. For example, it seems some of Karma’s smash-hit Gatsby collection shows staggering similarities to Balmain’s fall 2012 collection.

Aamna Aqeel seems to have been similarly inspired by Balmain for some shorts in her SS2013 collection. Ali Xeeshan and Tabassum Mughal also make his “Hall of Shame” but their crimes seem to be more about copying styling rather than actual design similarities.

 

Xeeshan uses an umbrella in the same way as Reema Acra while Mughal’s crowns are just like the ones used by Dolce & Gabbana.

Batur’s Givenchy-inspired outfit is more along the lines of Karma’s outfit — too close of a copy for comfort. While not all of Aamir’s picks are in the same league in terms of “inspiration”, there is a clear pattern. There’s also a rumour that another top designer’s showstopper at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week was heavily inspired by Balenciaga but with no pictorial evidence available, it seems unfair to name names. 

So, are some Pakistani designers crossing the line? Are they compensating for a lack of originality by appropriating other people’s designs? Well, some Pakistani designers may be “inspired” by other designers, but this isn’t a Pakistani problem. It happens all over the world and blogs like Aamiriat have made it easier for such cases to come to light. For example, the Tumblr blog called “Balenciaga did it first” is devoted to highlighting instances where other designers do looks that Balenciaga has previously done. 

Elan is called to book for using a painting of Mount Fuji that is ascribed to both Joel Edwards and “Trinifellah”. It’s not clear from the blog that Elan has merely used a picture and not plagiarised an outfit. This, I think is unfair as the implication of copying an outfit is a far graver accusation. In fact, a quick Google search reveals this painting is being used on many sites, often without any picture credit.

“I never made any secret of the fact that I used images from a variety of sources for my prints. In fact, I printed every picture I used in my press release,” says Khadijah Shah of Elan. “Many of these were ancient pictures and with pictures like this one that were posted in many locations, there was little way to authenticate ownership of the image.” She went on to reveal that whenever she used images of known artists, such as Saeed Akhtar for her first collection, she was always careful to get prior permission. With oriental images of dubious ownership plucked off the net, she neither felt this was possible nor necessary.

Call it inspiration or imitation, designers copy each other all the time — that’s how trends are born. A dozen different designers don’t spontaneously come up with the same idea — it’s an organic process. Sometimes trends are inspired by pop culture, hit TV shows, films and the like. More often, one person makes something truly original, unusual or aesthetically pleasing and others are inspired to do their own versions. These variations gradually filter down to the high street (or darzis, in the case of Pakistan) and suddenly everyone is wearing jumpsuits or chooridars or whatever.

Blatant exact copying is a separate yet genuine problem, with entire websites and production houses devoted to churning out replicas. That is an issue that needs to be dealt with severely as replica merchants are genuinely stealing intellectual property.

Although a couple of the designs highlighted by Aamir, particularly the Balmain-inspired ones, did sail very close to the wind, none are truly replicas. Is it right for designers to be getting critical acclaim for something that is not truly and entirely theirs? Probably not. But genuine originality is rare and as long as people put their own twist on an idea they copy, fashion has no problem with the concept. However, it’s important to point out that those who merely emulate can never hope to compete with those who really create. A unique signature is crucial and designers would do well to remember this.

Oxford-grad Salima Feerasta is a social commentator and lover of style in any form or fashion. She blogs at karachista.blogspot.com and tweets @karachista

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.                    

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Reader Comments (14)

  • just_someone
    May 24, 2013 - 12:41AM

    Would you say Gauguin copied from Picasso? That Renior copied from Monet? That Kline copied from Pollock?

    I know nothing about women’s fashion. But these really dont seem like copies, maybe subconsciously inspired by other work but definitely not copies.

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  • just_another_someone
    May 24, 2013 - 3:00AM

    @just_someone Agreed. I being a woman and having studied arts couldn’t see how these can be labelled as copies. Article written just for the sake of it waste of time duh!

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  • Mountie
    May 24, 2013 - 10:08AM

    These are not copies, these are inspirations.

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  • ali
    May 24, 2013 - 10:30AM

    please learn how things are created, made & then write such articles!!! only amna aqeels shorts seem to be too much inspired to the point one can say its copied!! except that all seem to be originals & un comparable to the ones you compared to!!!
    + there is nothing wrong in printing a famous painting on a fabric and making a dress out of it!

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  • Picasso
    May 24, 2013 - 11:00AM

    I kinda like their work.

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  • May 24, 2013 - 12:39PM

    SOME good workRecommend

  • Pivenchy
    May 24, 2013 - 1:53PM

    The one with the Japanese painting print is fine so long as the outfit is original. As in I hope no one has done a similar dress with a painting as print.

    The rest…if they aren’t copies then I think I can be a fashion designer too. Show me a well-reputed international designer who draws this much “inspiration” from other people’s work.

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  • choclat
    May 24, 2013 - 3:05PM

    They don’t look like copies but more of inspiration. Eg since monochromes are in fashion from top designers to brands like zara and mango are using them by their own aesthetic sense of design. If i find tshirt with mona lisa its not a copy either. Copying is if you make a ditto copy and there are horrible copies available in the market not by top designers. This article is just a waste.Recommend

  • Stranger
    May 24, 2013 - 3:49PM

    The designs are a wee bit similar and not an exact copy. After all there is a limit to being creative. ideas are bound to overlap.

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  • ayesha.a
    May 24, 2013 - 4:30PM

    all the comments seem to be coming from the designers or their friends themselves… after all ET is a popular newspaper amongst them.
    all the designs certainly lack originality.Recommend

  • Tahir
    May 24, 2013 - 10:35PM

    Saying it a copycat is a big judgement.
    The designers might have got these inspirations from other parts of the world, but I don’t see anything being copied in all the stuff.

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  • Sara
    May 25, 2013 - 4:54PM

    I don’t think all of these designers fall into the same categoray of “copycats”. Elan just used some generic Japanese images which are not even very unique to begin with. I am sorry to say this but Tabbassum Mughal and Ali Xeeshan have blantantly ripped off famous designer’s styling from the runway and Amna Aqeel has tried to make exactly the same shorts!

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  • Omar
    May 26, 2013 - 4:58AM

    To agree or not to agree, apart but al the above comments ending with ‘this article is waste’, sounds the nail has been hit at the right place!
    to blatently-inspired and calling your self ‘couturier’ is a bit exagerated!
    if thats the case then all tailors who get inspired from the designs published in magazines are better designers, as they know how to cut and stitch, not just sketching (looking at another designer’s design).
    Very well written article, Good Work Salima!

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  • Saroasha
    May 27, 2013 - 4:13PM

    As far as Tabassum Mughal is concerneded, the crowns are different. If you take a detailed look at the two. And, the idea of having a queen like persona on the ramp is something that could cross anyones mind. Crowns and Tiara’s have been fancied world wide by many people in the world of fashion and there is no denying that.
    As far as I know, Tabassum Mughal’s themes always revolve around royalty and models wearing head/hair accessories, which can be seen in her previous collections as well, one of which was worn by Iraj, so I don’t see why this is such a big deal? This is clearly a personal opnion more so, than a point being made!

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