FOR about a decade, Susan Scafidi, an associate law professor at Southern Methodist University, maintained a file on the fashion industry in her office”and the latest Vogue hidden in my briefcase,”she writes on her blog, Counterfeit Chic (counterfeitchic.com).
For most of that time,”fashion seemed a little too cutting-edge for the ivory tower,”she writes. But now,”with a multimillion-dollar counterfeits crisis and the new challenge of fast fashion, it’s time to come out of the closet!”
The blog shows just how action-packed the counterfeit situation has become. Most days, Ms. Scafidi posts one or two items to which she lends some in-depth, knowledgeable commentary. And each week, she posts a long list of newsy links to articles and blog posts from across the globe about police stings, internecine industry battles and efforts by both governments and fashion houses to somehow stem the flood of knockoffs.
When it comes to intellectual property, media piracy gets most of the attention, she notes, but fashion fakery is also highly costly for producers and has been around a lot longer.
There are big differences between them, thanks to what Ms. Scafidi calls”the culture of the copy”within the fashion industry, which is far different from the music and movie industries.
â€œThe history of fashion is a tale of innovation, but also of imitation,”she writes.”Trendsetters create and embrace new styles, but without copycats there would be no trends. This paradox lies at the heart of Counterfeit Chic.”
Until recently, intellectual property law generally stayed away from fashion. Ms. Scafidi examines the legal trends, but also”the cognitive and sociological reasons that make us want to buy or reject knockoffs in the first place.”
â€œIt’s about political and legal developments,”she writes,”but also about why both technological efforts and the social norms of the fashion industry continue to be more effective than law in supporting creativity.”