August 3, 2014

Opinion Piece: Leave Gavin Rajah Alone

In any industry, stealing or copying another person’s work is illegal and leaves a big red X over ones career, but not in fashion! In fashion stealing seems normal and "expected", what makes a difference is how you look at it. After all,you just have to change 25% of one’s design to call it yours.

When I first started working as a fashion stylist for an international fashion retail house,one of the most prestigious and old retail houses in the Middle East, I was only vaguely aware of the copy+tweak+paste going on in the seemingly glamorous industry called Fashion.
I was well aware of our favorite high street shops knocking off luxury brand designs, I was well aware of small,upcoming or low end fashion designers who would ignore their creative license as per say and opt to go for similar work as an established or another not so well established designer's work; copy+tweak+paste

During my course of work styling and working on trend concepts with luxury brands on a daily basis, I quickly realised that the thieving went far beyond fashion's lower ranked designers and stores. The big brands were copying off of each other right down to the styles of execution for their runway shows. 
During my early days on the job some of my duties included visiting the warehouse which stored thousands and thousands of fashion apparel and worth millions of dollars; I would easily make the mistake of not paying closer attention to brand names, I would keep in mind the when I came across another similar item I would assume it was either misplaced under a wrong designer tag in the warehouse. I not only had to learn new designer names but I had to know their design aesthetic and recognize a piece and its designer/brand without hesitation on a first look.
So when in Season 53 Alberta Ferretti came in, followed by P.A.R.O.S.H , it was confusing.
When Tosca blu clutch bags came in,right after Alexander Mcqueen clutch was shocking.
The list is endless.

It should really come as little to no surprise when brands seem to have a creative exchange of ideas,or to put it more bluntly; steal from one another.

When I heard of the recent Gavin Rajah faux pas, I must say that I was taken aback by the situation because a designer of Gavin Rajah's stature, with all his experience and international exposure; I find it difficult to believe that he did not know that one of his pieces had a twin seen on another runway at S/S 2013?
If the case is that he had absolutely no idea, then its further casts a shadow of doubt into his fashion knowledge or rather keeping up with current fashion to bring into his work what is relevant yet still maintaining his design aesthetic. I know you can't keep up with everyone and everything, but in your industry there are a handful of houses that one needs to keep an eye out for in the news- it's important.
Just like as a stylist there are several respected stylists of whom I keep up with not to copy their work but rather to see what is current and trending that perhaps I have over looked and literally to stay ahead of the pack anyway one can.
This isn't a new practise, that is why google and yahoo keep up with each other as well. Anybody who tells you different just give them a side-eye.
The moment you start believing in your own hype a little too much...this is when you make such grave mistakes. And people usually get away with it when the audience doesn't know any better!
Left: Celine
Middle: Zara
Right: Celine
The other side of the coin says he was well aware of this luxury brand's design and knew that it bore a similar resemblance to his but he chose to go with the 25% rule which gives comfort to many and he joined the ranks of many designers and high street retailers (fast fashion servers) that take luxury design work and water it down and make it a more affordable buy. 
I highly doubt the Elie Saab dress has the same retail price as the Gavin Rajah, and not because Gavin rajah is a bad designer but because of many other factors that contribute to "cheaper version of luxury" items.
I also doubt it was a matter of creativity, but it was a moral choice; he chose to go ahead with the gown knowing that Elie Saab had shown a very similar if not the same dress.
So did Gavin think people would not know any better,because that is the gamble you take with the 25% rule.
I think he should have taken it up a notch, steal it but make it yours just like how one very popular spanish retailer has done...they have gotten so good at  it,you can hardly tell unless you do your fashion homework.

As disappointed as one may be; those in the fashion industry shouldn't be as shocked.
Is it really the first time they spot twins on a runway? 
Is it that they only pay attention to the runway when it is convenient like in Gavin's case and they zone in for a social media homerun which then perpetuates them as fashion know how when in reality they probably couldn't tell between a real or a fake Dior bag?

Think about Mr Gavin Rajah the next time you walk into your favorite high street store (fast fashion servers) to pick up a cheaper version design of a luxury brands creativity.
Just like you are making a choice to buy a water down version of someone else's design, Mr Rajah also made the choice to sell the same idea. The only difference is perhaps he left too many tell tales along the way..the fabric may be of a cheaper quality.

If you loved the Elie saab gown but can't afford it, just buy the more affordable Gavin Rajah gown.Fast Fashion has been served.

Photo Credits: SocialTriggers
                          Spotted Fashion

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  1. I guess this will give a chance to everyone to look chick & stylish , don`t you think ??

    1. I generally think high street stores like topshop,marks and spencers,topshop etc give a lot of people a chance to wear similar runway creations..along with many many other fashion houses with lower ranks in fashion.
      So yes..chic and stylish indeed,for a fraction of the price.