While Fast Fashion giants have built their empires by offering “reinterpreted” designer products for less, a new crop of small-scale, social media savvy fast fashion labels are taking the practice to plagiaristic new heights, according to a recent story from GQ (written by our own Nick Grant 👏).
By keeping factory orders small, fabric orders large, and the finished product damn-near indistinguishable from the more expensive “inspiration,” these brands have managed to gain a foothold in an otherwise crowded clothing landscape, according to the story.
“[Like] their more corporate competition, brands like Represent, KNYEW, and MNML have gotten popular by flipping the hottest current trends into instantly-available items, while using social media and YouTube to reach new customers,” Grant writes. “But to the designers giving the inspiration, like Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo, some of these new-age fast-fashion brands are more like imitators than actual designers.”
Calling them imitators isn’t hyperbole, either. Like a bad cover band that won’t acknowledge their source material, side-by-side comparisons from the story make copycat accusations pretty hard for these indie fast-fashion brands to fight — accusations the designers tend to deny on their face, but inadvertently confirm in their defense processes.
The designer of MNML describes what they do (knocking off Fear of God silhouettes) as “a service to a degree,” Nid de Guepes’ designer thinks that every design has already been designed so Fashion is basically stealing anyways, and Represent continues to sell a version of a jacket that they already got sued for making.
But, so long as the “the line between counterfeit and inspiration remains blurry,” these companies will probably continue to thrive, even if it is by pillaging and plundering existing IP like some roving band of distressed-denim-clad idea pirates.
“Micro-trends, Instagram marketing, aggressive litigation: the world of independent fast-fashion is in its Wild West period. And that’s all because these brands want to serve a much savvier consumer than the retail world has ever seen.” What a time to be alive.
You can read more about it at GQ.