It’s New York Fashion Week

Of course you’re going to see a lot on this subject: Before Models Can Turn Around, Knockoffs Fly

A debate is raging in the American fashion industry over such designs. Copying, which has always existed in fashion, has become so pervasive in the Internet era it is now the No. 1 priority of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is lobbying Congress to extend copyright protection to clothing. Nine senators introduced a bill last month to support the designers. An expert working with the designers’ trade group estimates that knockoffs represent a minimum of 5 percent of the $181 billion American apparel market.

Outlawing them is certainly an uphill battle, since many shoppers see nothing wrong with knockoffs, especially as prices for designer goods skyrocket. Critics of the designers’ group even argue that copies are good for fashion because they encourage designers to continuously invent new wares to stay ahead.

Designers say that is pre-Internet thinking.

“For me, this is not simply about copying,” said Anna Sui, one of more than 20 designers who have filed lawsuits against Forever 21, one of the country’s fastest-growing clothing chains, for selling what they claim are copies of their apparel. “The issue is also timing. These copies are hitting the market before the original versions do.”

[…] The cut or details of a garment cannot be copyrighted under existing law, although logos and original prints can be protected. Anna Sui’s suit against Forever 21, which has 400 stores and sales estimated at more than $1 billion, claims it has infringed against her prints on 26 occasions.