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Copying or Inspired By?

I often wonder where the line is drawn in fashion when it comes to being "inspired by" or being a plain old knockoff. There's a boutique in Nantucket that has "H" bracelets and belts that are clearly counterfeits of the Hermés versions. When my friend asked the owner of the boutique how she gets away with it, she said they weren't knockoffs but rather "inspired by". Then there are other instances that are less blatant but still make me wonder. 

image via style.com

This Céline coat from the fall 2013 ready to wear collection has quite a distinctive check print which I really like but I don't see myself paying what I'm sure is a hefty price tag for such an obvious print that I might get sick of after one season. 


Then I saw this jacket from Zara that I considered buying but with their smaller sizing and no L or XL to be found, my mind was made up for me. While the style is clearly different and the quality of the Zara version is surely not even close to the Céline, at $129 the price of the Zara jacket is a fraction of the Céline and more palatable for something that might not span the test of time for me.


There's a whole red theme in the windows of Valentino on Newbury Street and on more than one occasional jaunt by, I've eyed these red ankle strap shoes (instagrammed here). I love the ankle strap and the wider heel that makes navigating Boston's brick and cobbled streets easier than some other shoes.

So imagine my surprise this weekend when I wandered into Zara and saw these little numbers. Again, the quality is lesser than the Valentino shoes, but the price is about one tenth of the original. 

image via style.com

I love the cut, assymetry and clean lines of this Proenza Schouler jacket from the fall 2013 ready to wear collection. This more timeless style to me can command the price.

Here's an image from Zara's fall 2013 campaign. The white jackets here lend themselves to the Proenza Schouler version but in this instance, it falls closer on the spectrum to "inspired by" than the others.


Lastly, this leopard jacquard jacket is from Ann Taylor's recent arrivals.  


This print of the Ann Taylor jacket (which also comes in a pencil skirt and trousers) is almost exactly the print of a RED Valentino peplum jacket that I've had for a year and a half. RED Valentino pricing isn't as high on the pricing scale as Valentino, but it is more than the Ann Taylor price point. I still like my version of the jacket much better but wonder how they get away with using what looks to be almost the exact same fabric.

It's tempting to buy less expensive clothes and shoes, especially when we don't have endless funds for such things.  But is it right to buy a blatant copy? I know I've bought many pieces at the likes of Zara and H&M over the years that favor a more expensive designer label. Elle has addressed this a few times on her blog. What do you think? Where do you draw the line?

Reader Comments (3)

This is a tough issue. On one hand, I love the knock offs because I just can't afford designer clothes and shoes. On the other, if I were the designers who worked extremely hard at coming up with new ideas only to see them reproduced for the masses by Zara, H&M, etc. it would be a little disheartening. It's a Catch 22 for sure!

08.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I noticed the AT print too being IDENTICAL to the red valentino from a couple of years back. Also, Jeffrey Campbell is another one who ALWAYS copies popular shoes and it kind of pisses me off. I paid good money for my Chloe Susanna boots and now there are tons of copies out there. Oh well, I think they will always get away with it and people will always buy it.

08.19.2013 | Unregistered Commentermegan

On one hand I can't afford buying all the designer pieces I like. On the other, I'm not convinced that wearing knock-offs / "inspired by" items makes you look good; on the contrary, they often scream "cheap(er)". I'd rather go for something with an original style that I can afford.

08.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

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