It is no secret many catwalk designs end up on the hangers in the shops of the most sneaky fast-fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M. What happens when Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing happens to walk past their windows and see his creations displayed?
It might surprise you, but the 28-year-old designer of a major fashion house seem to take imitation as a sincerest form of flattery. Moreover, he applauds Zara’s styling skills (he even used the word “genius” in the interview with The Independent)
“I think it was Coco Chanel who said if you’re original, be ready to be copied.I love seeing a Zara window with my clothes mixed with Céline and Proenza [Schouler]! I think that’s genius. It’s even better than what I do! I love the styling, I love the story… I watch the windows always, and it’s genius what they do today. They go fast, they have a great sense of styling and how to pick up what they have to pick up from designers. I’m really happy that Balmain is copied – when I did my Miami collection and we did the black and white checks, I knew they would be in Zara and H&M. But they did it in a clever way – they mixed a Céline shape with my Balmain print! Well done! I love that.”
Interestingly enough, Rousteing might not be the only designer who showed enthusiasm seeing mass market retailers knocking off their hi-end pieces. Phoebe Philo, who is a designer for Céline, said that most of the times she finds copies “flattering and exciting”, although admitted that sometimes “it’s been too close to the bone.”.
Proenza Schouler, however, did not appreciate Zara remixing copies of their creations with Balmain lookalikes. In 2011, fashion label’s co-founder stood up for hi-end designers’ right and testified on behalf of the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prohibition Act.
“One of our most popular designs has unfortunately become a typical example of the problem we highlight. Our PS1 satchel—a slouchy schoolboy bag with buckles, is the most knocked off designs on the market today.We have attempted to assert our rights and fight this piracy-but without success-because unfortunately it is currently legal under U.S. law.”