Is imitation the highest form of flattery?

Wednesday 15 May 2013
 photo KellyDog1-1.jpg
Hermes Kelly Dog
You know what they say? Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Though I'm not particularly sure if I agree completely with that statement.

Fifteen years ago, I purchased a "Birkin inspired" bag in Hong Kong for $150. I used it once and discarded the bag months later. The hubby once stopped me from buying a lookalike Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra necklace with these words - you'll never be satisfied with a second rate item. I guess it's like craving for a chocolate fudge cake but getting a carob cake instead.

However, I've noticed that High St stores are now copying designs right off the runway, some more blatantly than others. British designer, Jonathan Saunders was once asked about this issue. He broached the topic with a lot of grace and tact though I can empathize how difficult it must be to see one's hard work copied without any financial compensation.

Check out the poor relation of the original Hermes Kelly Dog from Next. It looks like a counterfeit Hermes bracelet with wonky hardware and badly applied paint along the edges.


  1. Don't know how they'll get away with this! It's hideous. I went off LV Sprouse shawls for this very reason.

  2. Since I work in IP, I must say that I respectfully disagree with that statement... and I'm happy to read that you're also having your doubts. In most cases you could say that it's infringement and I'm really against a (almost) carbon copy of a design. Inspiration ok, blatantly copying a designer's work is just not ok in my opinion...

  3. Ooh that's a tough call isn't it especially when something is very much "inspired" by something else. Yet so many people are looking for affordable versions who can't afford the luxury of the real thing. Look at the success of the Marant Dicker boots and how many versions have seeped in to to the market - some give a nod but some are outright copies.

    However, I have to say since I looked at the handbags with you in Liberty and you pointed out the finishes and trims, I've never been able to look at leather goods in the same way. I saw some very popular nude leather sandals just recently which have been much lauded and which I really liked, I couldn't get past the not perfect finishing. Pah - you have made shopping much more difficult for me now.

    1. Oooops...!!! I'm guilty of making you as anal as I am about the itty bitty details. You know it only gets worse when we next go shopping again.

  4. I think both are lovely but one of them would cost me my entire months salary! Are only the very wealthy allowed to sport the latest designer trends?

  5. agreed, the hardware looks dodgy - but the price will mean it likely becomes a sell out very fast
    there will always be ripoffs and there will always be customers for both

    p.s. thanks so much for your comment - would love to know if you like the 'icecream' if you try it.x

  6. In the strictest sense, most things-even the above-mentioned Kelly dog-weren't created in a vacuum (or at the designer's table). Non-designer (but very well made) versions of the IM boots, for example, have been worn in the Southwestern states (U.S.) by generations of women. A version of the LV Speedy aka the Boston bag is made and re-made all the time. In general, I have a problem with bad quality and unfortunately, it can be witnessed at every price point.
    I don't mind inspiration, but only if the designer puts their own stamp of creativity on the design.

  7. I think it is a touchy subject. I was reading that clothing cannot be copyrighted because it's a life neccessity, whereas accessories tend to be although it is costly to get a patent.

    I understand bringing the designs to the high street but sometimes I wished that the chain stores would use a little more of their own imagination.

  8. I think that creating something somewhat inspired by an item is one thing, but a blatant knockoff is another. If I were a designer it'd be pretty disheartening to see one of my designs completely copied. Unfortunately, this is an issue that has been around and I don't see it really going away anytime soon. Great post Marlene!


  9. I always find it hard when talking about a subject like this, because I can see it from so many different angles. But overall I feel like something that has been designed by a high street store with catwalk collections in mind, is fine because it's inspired but like you said more and more high street stores are producing outright copies which I don't think is okay. Even though I appreciate that a lot people ask the question, "What about those who can't afford the original?" Well I can't a lot of the time either but that doesn't push me to Zara to buy their version because yes, you might be getting almost the exact design but you'll miss out on the quality and the sustainability, amongst other things to. Though with all that said I guess it's each to their own and all that jazz. Great post my dear :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

  10. i am also against imitation and fake fashion stuff! sometimes it embarrassed the people who wear it.. but i am still alright with fast fashion stores though :)

    Letters To Juliet

  11. The "it" designer pieces always get copied, but the beautiful originals stand out a mile! Sometimes going for some of the smaller quirky unknown brands is a great idea....showing a bit of individuality, coupled with some frugal spending too! xx

  12. I totally agree with you

  13. I agree with the comment above, the people that have a disposable income will buy Hermes regardless of how many cheaper alternatives there are out there. Regardless of how amazing an item is, some people will just never be able to get their hands on it and frankly higher end brands are okay with their clientèle remaining exclusive so I'm sure their profits won't take much of a hit. I think it's great the high street takes inspiration off the runway so people who want to sport certain trends can if they can't afford the real thing, although outright copying like this is another story! Can't believe how blatant Next have been with this!

  14. Great topic for discussion, Marlene! I would have to echo the earlier statement that even luxury brands are not immune to this. I can't count how many times I've gone to a fashion show (and I'm talking about PFW) and seen things come down the runway that are beyond derivative.

    This blog does a wonderful job documenting how much fashion houses rip off one another and the art world-

    Whether something like this is seen as infringement really depends on the jurisdiction. In the US, Copyright law protects original prints, patterns, unique color arrangements and novel combinations of elements used on apparel and accessories but, in most cases, not fashion designs themselves. It's really limiting and there are ways to protect yourself through patents, but even patents are very limited when it comes to the duration that a designer has exclusivity. And not everything is in fact covered by a patent. There's a push to get a bill passed on this, but it's taking forever.



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