Copyright in Fashion

I watched the TED Talk by Johanna Blakley about fashion recently and it blew me away. Which is surprising, giving that I always1 wear black and I’m not that interested in fashion. But I like beautiful dresses on beautiful women and I thought it would be interesting.

It was, but not because it was about fashion, or beautiful women, — but because it was about copyright.

Apparently in the US, it’s very hard to protect fashion design. There is no copyright protection, only trademark protection, because dresses are too utilitarian to own.

And they profit immensely from it.

They have to be creative constantly, because their newest design will immediately be copied by other companies. It forces them to up their game, accelerates development and allows them “to paint with a broader pallet of design choices”. You can actually take from the best and ignore the rest — and get away with it!
Imagine if you could ignore copyright in other areas. The kind of innovation possible, the kind of creativity that would have to be done because the big players can’t simply rest on past successes.

It will not happen, of course, given that the big players have all of their processes adapted to the current model and could not cope with a need for rapid innovation. They’re heavy infantry that would be lost in the woods, while quick special forces like design project would outmaneuver them.

But it would be very nice. 🙂

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1 Unless colleagues give me a green/black shirt for my birthday and I have to wear it at least once.