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Oct 2, 2016

Just Knock It Off, Okay?

Readers, even if I could afford it, I'd have a hard time forking over $520 for a white cotton shirt.

That said, I think the shirt (above) by designer Hussein Chalayan is pretty special -- I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago while perusing the Mr. Porter site.  But I'm confident I can come up with a pretty good copy.  As it happens, I had three yards of white mercerized cotton poplin in my stash that I thought would be perfect -- bright white, silky smooth, and very opaque -- for a shirt like this one.


 
I decided that those side panels would need to fold at the exposed edges, so each panel is a double layer of fabric laid atop the regular shirt front.


  Here's how things look as of this evening; I still have plenty more to do.


I'm kind excited to see how close a copy I can get to the original shirt.  Shameless, right?

In closing, have you ever blatantly knocked off a current or vintage fashion?  Do you think it's ethical as long as you're not trying to pass your garment off as an original?  I'm looking at it as a creative challenge, especially since I'm making it up as I go; I really don't know exactly how the original shirt was constructed.

Have a great day, everybody!

37 comments:

  1. Guilty. Sometimes the results are good. I like to use my pattern drafting software because I get a more custom fit with little effort and save money at the time time.

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  2. Oh, that's such a cool design, and I'm so impressed you're knocking it off. It looks complicated.

    I've thought about trying, but haven't worked up the nerve yet.

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  3. Guilty as well. I made a red cape after I was inspired (okay, too cheap to fork over $$$$ for a Kate Spade cape) and it was one of the most rewarding projects I made. My first successful bound buttonholes, and attempt at pad-stitching. It was the best learning and sewing experience.

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  4. My sewing skills are pretty much confined to sewing straight lines. I get lots of vicarious enjoyment reading your blog. But I have a question about this shirt - if one wanted to put something in those breast pockets, could one? Are they real pockets? I look forward to your reveal of the finished garment!

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    1. Ah, a fellow "sewing voyeur".

      Ya know, Peter keeps the lights on and the blinds up; so one can not be sure there is a vicarious element present, since it's all done in plain sight (even, "open and notorious", on occasion).

      As for those pockets, they look barely functional (a calling card might fit in one, but just about anything would be visible and ruin the style lines with unsightly bulges), never mind that any use of the pocket flap would encourage it to depart from the garment.

      I too salivate for the reveal (while exuding all the charm of a $2 tipper at a strip club).

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  5. I've knocked off fashion I've seen on the street myself. I think there's nothing unethical about it as long as you acknowledge the source, and you don't exploit the design for profit.

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  6. That's the best part of sewing! I've knocked off St Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Helmut Lang and lots of others. Can I afford $2800 for a coat, of course not and it doesn't come in my size anyway. Can't wait to see this finished.

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  7. I recently produced copy of a Jacques Fath dress, in quarter scale though, so I'm not sure if that counts!

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  8. All the time! I sew it for me, and only payment self gets is cake .... which I also bake. So, no harm done.

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  9. I knocked off a bikini last summer, after a certain charismatic NY sportswear designer. It came out well enough and I will almost certainly do it again. It doesn't seem unethical considering the original item was well out of my budget & therefore I don't consider myself his customer. I would never try to pass off such an item as my own design, nor would I profit in any way -- that's definitely over the line.

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  10. When an idea sets you on fire to copy it, you MUST do so.Copying an idea to see if you can do it is fair. Copying an idea and claiming it is original is wrong.

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  11. SeamsterEast at aolOctober 3, 2016 at 2:53 AM

    In the United States, it is completely legal to copy a clothing design, make a product from that design and sell it for a profit. As long as there is no logo infringement. = = = = With your technical skills you could without doubt make a fine, fine replica of a $520 shirt. All it would take is a couple hundred dollars in high end fabric, some fine fitting skills (which you are also good at) and some particular attention to construction details. = = = = I once met a woman with forty years experience as an interior designer. She made her own "work uniform" clothing because starting out she simply couldn't afford the quality of clothing needed to compete in that business. She kept on making her own "uniform" clothing right up to the end of her career -- even though she didn't particularly like making clothing -- because she could still get "uniforms" at a fraction of the price of high end clothing. = = = = Think of the effect on your custom clothing business when your clients first meet you wearing a $520 shirt.

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  12. I took pattern drafting classes one summer at a local sewing school more than 50 years ago and frankly, we all copied fashions we saw in newspapers and magazines That was the whole point of drafting your own patterns and so I have never thought about it as unethical. It was just to have clothing that fit and didn't cost what you couldn't afford.

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  13. Looks like the idea here is to keep the pockets of your well starched shirt from filling with water on a rainy day! But looking forward to seeing your reveal, Peter! LOL! ;)

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  14. Great inspiration shirt and will be a perfect knock-off.
    I've done this quite often and blogged about it too. Agree to what is said above, as long as you don't exploit it for profit I don't see much wrong with it. I always mention the original inspiration.

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  15. I'm really not very creative when it comes to designing clothes, so I'm constantly "borrowing" ideas from what I see on Pinterest or Vogue's Run Way app. It's a big part of what makes sewing my own clothes fun. And, let's face it, sometimes it's not all that much fun, "rip, rip, swear, rip"!!!!

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  16. Designers have been taking ideas from others and from history forever. And taking credit for a "OMG that's so original!" ideas that are really a minor tweak. Look at many of the recent indie pattern companies - very few original and even fewer *well-done* designs. I say those of us who can knock off designer garments should and have no twinge of guilt. I'm not saying to go into business making knock-offs for profit (China has that cornered), but to spread the word that home sewists can and do make designer quality garments.

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  17. Being able to recreate a garment I've seen somewhere is the whole reason I started sewing. So - not shameless, but brilliant! I can't wait to see the results!

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  18. FWIW, Wiki:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_design_copyright

    There's very little new under the Sun in fashion except perhaps how certain details are combined, the occasional material invention, a unique marketing scheme, etc.

    How original is this Hussein Chalayan design? I don't assume any fashion is truly original and I also assume that designers assume (lots of assumptions here) that their designs will be copied. If anything, you're doing Chalayan a favor: I'd not heard nor read of him until you chose to copy one of his shirts. That is, as long as the design is in the public sphere and you're not claiming it as your own original.

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  19. If I'm not selling it (and if I credit the original when I blog it), I think it's ALL fair game. Last I heard, the legal requirement is only 20% variation even if you ARE claiming it as original--meaning it only has to be 20% different from the inspiration to be counted as a "new" design. I think part of what makes fashion so vibrant and filled with fresh concepts is that it's an open-source medium where ideas can flow freely and experience mutation as they go through each iteration and designer. So I don't think a copy is a bad thing--it's an exciting challenge and a chance to start in one place and take off in a new direction!

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  20. That's a good looking copy! 👍💖

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  21. I have copied garments (or elements thereof) that I'd never otherwise be able to afford or wear, and it's a blast having something fabulous without breaking the bank. More power to the folks who can and do support haute couture...I make my own. :-)

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  22. I have never copied an entire item but I did steal some details before. I think it is alright if it is for personal use and you don't pass it of as and original. It is a fun challenge so why not...

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  23. Looks fab... RTW is a minefield of badly fitting garments. I often copy clothes. The last I did was a lovely top for a close friend... I say top but it was actually sold as a dress! If you happen to be 5ft0 then I could just about pass as a dress.. my friend is 5ft11 and I her bum cheeks were hanging out the bottom! The original is now worn as a top and I'm on my second, slightly longer, direct copy that can actually be worn as a dress!
    Copy for yourself is fine... copy to sell would be an issue I think.
    Looking forward to seeing the finished shirt :D
    Lainey x

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  24. Gosh you have really got me thinking and puzzling over this design all afternoon! I'd love to get into shirt making but I don't really wear them and my partner's wardrobe is full up, so it would just be a technical exercise that I can't currently justify. I'm enjoying exploring this craft vicariously through your blog, though! Thanks!

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  25. I spent the better part of the early summer working out the construction of the 6Napoleon dress from Dogstar as a group exercise with Marianne at Sew2Pro, and Dogstar was right on board with it.
    Because they knew it was just good publicity for them on a discontinued item. And at the end of it, the designer's price is for the handwork and the materials I just can't get at where I live. It was a HOOT to do.
    And yes, I think that's what Pinterest is for.....

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  26. Your shirt looks just like the inspiration. Beautiful work as always.

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  27. There is nothing unethical about copying the design as long as you don't say its an original.......the entire fashion industry is based upon copying!

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  28. Having some experience with artist copyright when I was working for a beading magazine, I know that you can copy someone else's design as long as you don't make it to sell for profit without permission. That being said, the smallest tweaks can count as enough differentiation to constitute a new design. Also, as others have noted, the fashion industry runs on imitation, copying, recycling, and revival. I think everyone recognizes that it would be impossible to stem the fashion floodgates of imitation, inspiration, and emulation.
    Anyhooooo, I think that shirt is going to look fantastic with your new Marrimeko pants.

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  29. I think it's fine so long as you're not selling it. It's like an homage!

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  30. Copying from a photo or original is fun and so satisfying. Do it often.

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  31. I have never copied completely, but would like to one day! Love this shirt Peter!!!

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  32. I copy all the time but never claim the design as my own work. A large part of the fun sewers have us being able to knock off designs for a fraction of the designer cost. As long as your not selling it as a designer work, then I see no problem. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project.

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  33. We all love looking over your shoulder as you create. I love to sew but have my time taken up by 'need to' rather than 'want to' sewing. So watching you make your masterpieces, gives us joy. Thank you. And sewers have been stealing ideas since time began.

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  34. I think it's perfectly fine, provided you're not trying to sell it. I reverse engineer other things, so why not clothes?

    Although I might stop at directly trying to copy embellishments, etc. But the basic garment? I think that's perfectly fine.

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