Is This Copying?

It’s bad enough when an established brand or a fast-fashion chain rips off an indie label’s design, altering it slightly so as to disguise the imitation. It’s that much worse when the imitation is almost identical, as is the case that came to light today involving an original print by the UK knit label Sibling and a very similar print from Zara.

The light floral pattern with black dots first appeared on a sequin dress from the fall 2013 collection by Sibling’s second line, Sister by Sibling. Zara’s version of the print appears on a sweatshirt and a skirt from the same season, although Sibling only noticed the similarity recently. Today the Sibling trio — Joe Bates, Sid Bryan, Cozette McCreery — took to Twitter to rail against the Spanish company.

A variety of London-based style sites, including Dazed Digital, picked up on the alleged copying. To make matters worse, the original print in question was made in collaboration with Illinois-based artist Chad Wys, adding another layer of potential plagiarism.

The lifting of artwork like this calls into question the legitimacy of Zara and other high-volume, low-cost, quick-turnaround outlets. The words “Zalenciaga” and “Zéline” were recently printed in a New York Times article about how closely Zara’s offerings resemble designer collections. And if Sibling noticed it roughly one year after occurring, how many other instances are there that never get noticed?

Just days ago, Yoko Ono forked over an undisclosed amount to Brooklyn designer Haleh Nematzadeh in a settlement the two reached over the singer’s menswear collaboration with Opening Ceremony in 2012. Ono claimed the prominent hand prints over the crotch and breasts were inspired by a book of drawings she made and gave as a wedding gift to John Lennon in 1969. Nematzadeh, on the other hand, contended she’d been working with the motif for some time and had shown the designs to Opening Ceremony in a meeting about possibly picking her line. They didn’t.

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