Gwen Stefani "has sued Forever 21, claiming the fast-fashion retailer has knocked off designs from her Harajuku Lovers clothing line." But copyright laws for fashion are iffy so this may not send any shock waves through the fake Prada purse trade out on Harry Hines Avenue. The things they do with vinyl!
Anyway, the whole subject of knock-offs confuses me. Fashionista -- with their recurring feature "Adventures in Copyrights" -- abhors the knock-off. (Yet, they're wild about those poorly constructed Target Proenza dresses.) When you wear a designer knock-off, can it ever be an homage -- simply a reluctant admission that you have more enthusiasm than money -- or is it just tacky, tacky, tacky? I can't tell because a retailer like Zara seems to bring real art to the knock-off: "It takes up to a year for fashion houses to launch a catwalk collection but Zara can sell expensive-looking, affordable copies of the hottest trends within weeks of their debut. Zara's limited lines appeal to shoppers who buy luxury look-alike clothes and mix high and low fashion."
So that's it. You have to wear your knock-offs knowingly. Otherwise, you're just Andy Sachs in a cerulean sweater.
Maybe the original knock-off genius, though, was Stanley Marcus. He introduced the Neiman Marcus Awards for fashion nearly 70 years ago and awarded it to, among others, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior even though Neiman Marcus never sold those couture lines. They sold copies of those couture lines. The award show was an illusion, a brilliant way for Neiman Marcus to link its name to leading designers. No one got sued. Everyone got famous. And all the Dallas ladies felt beautiful.