Jun 2, 2015

When Copying Designs Becomes A Norm In The Fashion World

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Nida Khurram has taken those gorgeous illustrations from Portuguese artist Antonio Soares without his consent. 
PHOTO: ANTONIO SOARES FACEBOOK PAGE/MARIAMSAYS

By Tanveer Khadim

Published by Express Tribune



Committing plagiarism under the guise of inspiration seems to be the new norm for fashion designers these days. And Pakistani designer Nida Khurram is no different.

Keeping in mind the latest trend of digital print clothing, Khurram utilised modern-day patterns and illustrations in her Pret Summer Collection 2015 that was showcased at Fashion Pakistan Lounge in Karachi on May 30, 2015 and it will run till the stock lasts.

Khurram, who was previously associated with the Asian Institute of Fashion Design (AIFD) and famous for her western collections and motifs, revealed while talking to The Express Tribune,

“I’ve been really inspired by fashion illustrations of London, Milan and NYC based artists. Their work has motivated me to bring the collection forward through digital prints.”

However, keeping ‘inspirations’ aside, it seems that she has intentionally tried to curate the fashion illustrations of foreign artists to enhance her own summer collection – and that too without giving due credit to the artist. If this isn’t plagiarism, I don’t know what is.

And in her latest collection, Khurram has shamelessly copied illustrations from Portuguese artist Antonio Soares without his consent, and she didn’t even have the courtesy to mention his name anywhere.

Clearly resentful, Soares has criticised this outrageous plagiarism by posting about it on his Facebook - timeline. The level of his distress can be judged by the words he uses to express his disapproval of Khurram’s shameful act,

News from Pakistan: a DISGUSTING collection “inspired in fashion illustrators” says the “fashion designer”! Using my work (and others also) without my permition!!!! Grande Vaca!!!! Feel free to send her Messages” (sic)

Antonio Soares Facebook Post
Soares’s Facebook profile has an array of analogous illustrations. Anyone can relate the striking similarities between Khurram’s design and his unique images. In fact, two of the motifs are the exact copies printed on her cloths.

All around the world, decent designers are aware of the fact that copying or stealing an intellectual property of a person is an awful act for which they can be dragged into a lawsuit. Replication of any artist’s work without his authorisation or legal consent, and paying him no royalty for the used designs absolutely falls under ‘stealing’.

Soares’s instagram profile categorically mentions “copyright and license of my illustrations owned by me”. If, even after this disclaimer, Khurram had the audacity to steal his designs for her own fame, then she should rest assured – this has definitely made her famous (read: infamous).

With the steady bombardment of photos and illustrations that we stumble upon accidentally or unexpectedly on fashion blogs and popular photo sharing websites – for instance Tumblr, DeviantArt, WeHeartIt, Instagram and Pinterest – it can be complicated to hunt down the genesis of creativity. But in Khurram’s case, it wasn’t an ambiguous account from where she got her “inspiration” – it was from a well-established fashion designer. She should have at least considered this before blatantly putting her (now tarnished) reputation at stake.

In my opinion, Khurram ignored the intellectual copyrights of Soares’s illustrations and that’s why she presented her dresses to mass fashion markets with such confidence. May be she thought the world, and particularly Pakistani peopl,e will never be able to know the real maker behind her designs. What she forgot in the whole process is that we are living in a world of technology where everything is just a click away.

Online catalogues, videos of international fashion shows and global magazines make it quite unproblematic to figure out who grabbed what from where and whom. Many of us can still recall the famous Sana Safinaz’s lawn case of using Spanish retail brand Zara’s pattern.

Photo: Zara silk printed pants & Sana Safinaz 11a and 11b from Spring Summer 2013.
All professionals are ambassadors of their country; anything they do is a representation of the entire nation. And in this regard, Khurram has failed us all. Not only did she rip off the hard work of a professional artist, and commit an intellectual crime, she also brought bad repute to Pakistanis everywhere. Now, just because of her, every Pakistani designer’s integrity will be questioned and their hard work will be marred by the shadow of doubt and cynicism. She has brought dishonour to the Pakistani fashion industry and I do not know how our thriving industry will cope with this blow.

But Khurram is not the first designer who has done something like this. And as the trends are going, I don’t think she will be the last. Not just fashion, almost all of our art-related fields have non-professionals who have copied, plagiarised and ripped off other artist’s intellectual properties.

The most significant step towards stopping plagiarism in Pakistan is to introduce a proper and uncomplicated code of conduct and guarantee its complete observance via an efficient complaint process.

Pakistan Fashion Design Counsel (PFDC) should devise a strategy to put off such practices by introducing exemplary punishments for the illegal act of plagiarism. Moreover, the designer fraternity should come forward and stand by with  hardcore rules as a commitment to curb ritual of bootlegging.





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