Are You Buying The Real Thing?



I’m sure we’ve all come across pieces of clothing that are blatant knock offs of popular brands. For instance, when you go to flea markets it’s easy to find purses with the trademark “Louis Vuitton” or “Gucci” prints. But, what happens when it’s not that obvious? what happens when it comes to similarities?

Plagiarism: Taking someone else’s work and passing it off as one’s own.

Original Mary Mcfadden (left)  Copy Maryam Nassirzadeh (right)

Inspiration: When someone else’s work influences one’s own creative ideas.

Yves Saint Laurent (left)  Alice and Olivia (right) Both inspired by the Beatles


Purchasing products of plagiarism isn’t always inevitable. It’s highly unlikely that the common shopper, for that matter even an avid fashion enthusiast would know every fashion labels trademark print and/ or design. Sometimes the most popular of brands end up copying the designs of smaller brands.  However, most people wouldn’t take a second guess because it’s a renowned label, and a factor of trust has already been established in regards to its authenticity.

HelenStorey AshleyWilliams Jacket Beads Black PlagarismvsInsperation

On the left is an original Helen Storey jacket, and on the right is a Ashley Williams Jacket. In my opinion, the more known Ashley Williams jacket is a COPY. The bra-style bandeau is not a common style that is paired with a jacket, to have that and an identical jacket cut with the addition of dangling beads makes this jacket questionable.

Now, ill get to the complicated side of this debate.

LABELLING something as inspiration instead of plagiarism and vice versa isn’t as easy as it always seems.

In my opinion both would have to constitute:


1. Using a Brands Trademark Design

Cinderella Shoetique (left) Valentino (right)


Both these shoes look identical and there is a big problem with that. Most people know that gold rock-stud caged sandals are Valentino’s trademark design, to pair that with the same color and design defiantly make this copy.

2. Being Heavily Inspired by Another’s Original Work Without Giving Credit

Stuart Smythe (left) Gucci (right)


 Although, both designs aren’t identical this is copy. The left is original artwork produced by indie artist Stuart Smythe. Gucci, has used the same design (minor alterations in snake), font, and design proportions without giving credit to the original artist.

3. Using Several ‘Identical’ Elements of a Piece and Adding One Minute Alteration

Adam Selman (left) Wild Ones (right)


Mesh pants aren’t all that common and are statement pieces, therefore, when you come across them they stand out. On the left are original, Adam Selman mesh pants in a red and green floral print. On the right are identical, Wild Ones mesh pants with a modified tapered ankle, which cross the line of inspiration.


1. Using Elements of Something that has No Patent or Trademark

Attico (left) and Mango (right) 


Although, both dresses look strikingly similar in color, cut, and style the Mango is NOT a copy.  Both dresses are inspired by a Kimono (traditional Japanese silk garment), which has influenced many dresses in the past.

2. Using an Major Element from Another’s Original Work with Credit

Mondrian Dress: Yves Saint Laurent dress inspired by Piet Mondrian’s early-20th-century paintings.



3. Using a Style

Louis Vuitton (top) and Tommy Hilfiger (bottom)


Trunk Bags are a trend and many brands use them. Just because Louis Vuitton is famous for their Petit Malle does NOT mean other brands are stealing their design.

How do you avoid purchasing plagiarized fashion pieces?

There is really NO FOOL-PROOF way to protect yourself 100%! Nor should you be cross-checking everything you purchase, because let’s face it that would make shopping a dreadful experience.

But, here are some percussions to take while shopping for big ticket items:

  • If you are going to a flea market keep in mind that unless the item is made locally you are probably buying a “knock off”
  • DOUBLE CHECK something online if you feel like you have seen another brand with something strikingly similar. (If you are going to invest big bucks it might as well on be on the original)
  • RESEARCH, I can’t stress enough how important it is to look up a product online before you invest. (Even if you know it’s from a renowned brand, read comments and reviews on related articles)

Everybody has their INDIVIDUAL take on where to draw the line between Inspiration vs. Plagiarism. What’s your take? Do you agree or disagree?

I’d love to hear your opinions!

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Amrit K.

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