An official fashion caucus was recently formed on Capitol Hill with the express purpose of pushing legislation through Congress that would stifle the knockoff industry, something that has been driving the CFDA mad for ages. “We are working on a bill now for copyright protection and we are going to pass it this session,” fashion caucus co-chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D., N.Y.) told WWD. If passed, the new bill would allow designers to register apparel, handbags, footwear, belts, and eyeglass frames for three years of copyright protection.
“Counterfeits with pirated designs and fake labels are absolutely prohibited by law, but it doesn’t provide any protection for the same fashion design when the pirates omit the label,” said Maloney. “One of the challenges we have is that people will go to a show and just sketch it, and by the end of the day, print it out and ship it out on the Internet to another country to make a copy of it. We’ve got to stop that and we will stop that.”
While the CFDA obviously supports the bill, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, among other apparel companies, doesn’t like it as it stands, which could make passing it impossible. That happened before, when the Design Piracy Prohibition Act got stuck in committees because the industry as a whole couldn’t agree on what it should say.
The battle to copy-protect clothing is so trying that high-fashion labels themselves sometimes give up. Last year Trovata gave up on its landmark case against knockoff giant Forever 21, which the label accused of knocking off some tops, after a two-year battle.
If designers and the caucus can push the new bill through, what will become of Forever 21 and other stores like it, where we — the people with budgets — shop? We’ll all look hideous! And dated! You know, maybe! The real winners here, aside from the designers, will be the rich snobs who don’t want to believe cheap things they may refuse to buy can look just as good as expensive ones. And to those people we say: Does Fiji water really taste better than Poland Spring?