New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill today that would require apparel companies to wait three years before copying the designs of high-end fashion labels. Forever 21 will soon be called Forever 24.
If passed, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act—which was drafted with the assistance of the Council of Fashion Designers of America—would give designers three years of protection before anyone would be able to create a nearly identical garment from something seen on the runway, a common practice among chains like Forever 21 and H&M. "Unregulated, high-end knock offs are hurting the integrity of this industry," Schumer says.
The bill will not interfere with people copying designs for their own use, but is aimed instead at companies that thrive on knock-offs. Designers in Europe and other countries already have this level of protection so America is finally up to the same standards of protecting multi-billion dollar luxury conglomerate's intellectual property as the rest of the world.
While I don't necessarily disagree with the bill—I'd be pissed if someone was continuously ripping off my work!—it seems to miss the spirit of what is going on. It's not like people are thinking, "Hmm, I can either buy this $7,400 Marc Jacobs blazer or buy this identical one for $17.40 at Ye Olde Knockoff Shack." Marc Jacobs is not going to sell any more $7,400 blazers because the cheap alternatives have been put out of business. All that is going to happen is that poor people are going to look less fashionable than ever when they have to wait to buy this year's runway looks at a reasonable price point in 2013. Looks like it's back to potato sack dresses and barrels with suspender straps attached for the rest of us until then.