5 Things We Learned at FIT’s Knock-Off Exhibit

Fakes. Copies. Frauds. Whatever you may call them, the new exhibit “Faking It” at the Museum at FIT is all about the business of fashion knock-offs. From licensed copies of Christian Dior and Chanel, to counterfeit Christian Louboutins, the exhibit covers 150 years and includes 100 different examples.

“I get asked about what inspired the show,” said curator Ariele Elia. “Really, I was thinking about the rise of fast fashion and knocking off things we see on the runway. From the time the design hits the runway to two weeks later, the designs are in fast-fashion stores. I wanted to real think about how long this has gone back in fashion.”

FN previewed the show, and here are a few tidbits we found most interesting:

1. Fashion design is copyrighted and protected in Italy, France and the U.K. Not so in the U.S. In 1941, the Federal Trade Commission disbanded the Fashion Originators Guild, which “red-carded” stores caught selling copies or unlicensed designs. After that failed attempt, there’s not much in the way of design protection stateside.

2. Zara gets called out for creating an exact copy of a look from the Celine 2013 fall collection — and a lot of other designers.

3. That Moschino McDonald’s collection? Yep, Jeremy Scott didn’t get sued because he asked McDonald’s for its permission to use the Golden Arches.

4. Want to make a stand on anti-copying fashion? How about adding your thumbprint? 1920s couturier Madeleine Vionnet did on the tags in her designs.

5. Coco Chanel was actually pretty okay with the whole copying thing. She even provided her licensed copiers with lists of where to purchase identical fabric and trim, and how much they needed to make the ensemble. 

The new show opens today and runs through April 25, 2015.

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