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Mr. Rodriguez Goes to Washington (for Copyright Protection)

Narciso Rodriguez needs the long arm of the law.Photo: Getty Images

The wheels of clothing-copyright protection are slowly moving along: Narciso Rodriguez went to Congress yesterday to make his case for protecting designer clothing, as the Design Piracy Prohibition Act has been stuck in committee, unable to reach House and Senate floors because the fashion industry can’t agree on its language. (CFDA people, especially president Diane Von Furstenberg, have been working on copyright protection for quite some time.) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates $12 billion in lost revenues to fashion counterfeiters and pirates in 2006, and Rodriguez said this is particularly significant considering the overhead cost of designing shmancy clothes:

Rodriguez said he designs and puts together a 250-piece collection in one year over the course of six to 12 months for the fall and spring runway shows, which cost an average of $800,000 to stage. The fabric for samples costs another $800,000, pattern and design development costs $1.5 million, travel for design and fabric development reaches $350,000 and marketing rings up another $2.5 million.

That adds up to almost $6 million in the hole before sales. And if you don’t feel bad for designers, you can’t help but get misty when Rodriguez drops the Kennedy wedding: He designed Carolyn Bessette’s famously simple wedding dress when she married John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996. Yet he only sold 40 of those dresses, while copycat designs sold 7 to 8 million. This injustice can no longer stand. Pass the bill, Congress! Do it for John John!

If only we could afford the originals.

Designer vs. Vendor: Battle over Copyright Issue Hits Congress

Mr. Rodriguez Goes to Washington (for Copyright Protection)