As a creative in any industry, the moment your design or concept is out there for the world to see and admire, there would always be a slim chance that another brand would try to copy it illegally. Whether with local or international brands, there are numerous times the design or concept of a fashion brand has gotten stolen by another brand.
Fisayo Longe, the creative director and owner of Kai Collective once called out a California-based brand, SheIn in the past for selling a skirt which was originally designed by her company. So, is there any protection for fashion creative designs? And what steps can fashion entrepreneurs take to prevent these things from happening?
About Intellectual Property Rights
In the fashion industry, intellectual property rights is the ability to claim ownership over the property created by one’s intellect. And the three types which are relevant to fashion entrepreneurs in Nigeria are copyright, trademark and patent.
The Alexis dress by Melodia which gained a lot of buzz last week was recreated and sold by another designer, and this is an example of one of the dangers fashion entrepreneurs face. While some users condemned the designer for stealing the design concept, other users were cool with the idea.
If Kylie Jenner replicated this look, y’all will write dissertations on how she has a history of stealing & not crediting BW but look at you replicating somebody else’s style and putting up size charts for others to order. This is the Nigeria y’all are waiting for leaders to fix. https://t.co/JErea501HD — Chidinma (@ChidinmaNnoli_) January 9, 2021
From research, we have found out that brands who replicate designs from other fashion brands sell their designs at a much cheaper price which then attracts customers. Other times, the brands do so in a bid to get the acclaimed buzz which the original designer got.
This is really nice! I do not understand why people are bullying her tho, I mean we all save styles and give to tailors to sew for us. What’s the big deal all about? For the records, I’m going to recreate as well✌️make e choke wella🥵 I come in peace 🥰 https://t.co/8FYVqNApQd — official_demmy💡💡 (@official_demmy) January 9, 2021
So, what can designers do to avoid all these from happening?
According to a corporate and commercial lawyer in Nigeria, fashion entrepreneurs in the industry have not fully harnessed the protection of the Intellectual Property Rights law. The fashion industry should be more like the entertainment sector, where artists, songwriters and many more, can easily sue due to infringement on any of these rights.
Although there are no specific laws for the fashion industry, some provisions such as the rights in Intellectual Property can still be beneficial to fashion entrepreneurs.
We understand that the creative process of a fashion entrepreneur is one that is intense, and that is one of the major reasons why products of such processes should be guarded.
Protecting your rights as a fashion designer should be just as important as running your business, as you wouldn’t want a copycat to enjoy the benefits and advantages that comes with the designs and concepts you created.