Fashion's Dirty Laundry: Diane von Furstenberg
Even iconic labels occasionally suffer a faux pas.
Last April, when newspaper journalist Nathalie Atkinson wrote about the marked similarities between a jacket from a small Canadian design group and one from an international mega-brand, a minor storm erupted in the fashion world.
Not only does a side-by-side comparison of the two garments show shocking similarities, but the copier was none other than the label Diane von Furstenberg, a powerhouse in the design world.
This fashion faux pas moment was quickly picked up by the world’s fashion media as an example of how hard the mighty had fallen.
The designer Diane von Furstenberg, namesake of the brand known for its iconic wrap dress, is also the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Von Furstenberg, who was re-elected for her second term as the CFDA head in July 2008, has been an active and vocal proponent of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, which was first introduced in 2006 and reintroduced in the Senate in May 2009. The DPPA, as it is commonly known, would cover apparel and accessory designs by intellectual property protection, which they do not currently enjoy.
Susan Scafidi, visiting professor at Brooklyn Law School and pioneer in fashion law education, blogs about these matters at CounterfeitChic.com. She supports the DPPA and says that, if passed into law, it wouldn’t protect generic designs -- like a pencil skirt or a T-shirt -- but only specific design details that are sufficiently original and complex to warrant protection.
“The system moves so fast now,” says Scafidi. “Copies get in the stores straight after runway, before the originals even get there. It’s really tough for designers.”
Diane von Furstenberg jacket on the right side and Mercy jacket on the left.
So what's with the logos you see on everything from shoes to jeans to shirts? Blame the lawyers. In the 1960s, the Italian designer Emilio Pucci began to incorporate his signature into his colorful swirl- and flower-printed fabric designs, says Scafidi. His goal was to obtain a modicum of legal coverage under trademark protection law. The unfortunate hybrid legal-fashion trend took off from there.
Privately-held Diane von Furstenberg was founded in 1972 and had $18 million in sales in 2008, according to Gale Company and Resource Center. The company knows something about filing copyright infringement suits -- Target, Mango, and Forever 21 were at the receiving end of its lawyers’ letters in recent years -- which was another reason that DVF acted quickly in offering amends to Mercy.
Within a month of making the complaint, the Canadian designers received a public apology and an undisclosed settlement.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.