The Art of Imitation

Some believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to fashion the consensus is not so. Intellectual property within the fashion world is not so cut and dried as in other industries, with designs and concepts as easily stolen as taking candy from a baby. In fact, the creative realm as a whole is liable to infiltration as words and pictures find themselves reinterpreted by those too unoriginal to think up the idea first.

Lately, the conversation has involved much debate over the numerous copycats intent on helping themselves to concepts dreamed up by individuals far more capable than they. For, as much as these lowly imitators battle to contend with the strength of originality they are ultimately lacking the quality, talent and character that make the original what it is.

There is no escaping real talent, because when faced with it you can be under no illusion that it is worth waiting for. True in a post-modernist era no new idea is ever “new”, there will have been someone thinking it in 1963 and before them in 1919, but what each cycle of the idea involves is that person’s unique stamp proclaiming it to be original. The fashion world in particular reviews styles through history, each spectacular fashion week fete serving up reimagined aesthetics yet it is different each time. That is because a designer brings their own flavour, their own personality, their own vision to a dress, a pump, a jacket to make it undoubtedly theirs.

It is the same with writing. You only have to walk down the fiction aisle at a bookstore to see numerous versions of essentially the same story as authors follow formulae and structures designed to lure readers into their world. It is once you get there that you understand what sets their world apart from their literary counterparts. The individuality that flows from page to page is the same vital ingredient fashion designers rely on to create a signature style the world will recognise them for.

In the small business world, and the bloggersphere, the grasp on intellectual property is even looser than for those parading their name on the world stage. Championed by the likes of Vogue or The New Yorker you may be rather less likely to have your ideas copied or usurped, while in the oft-times pit of social media, competitors are far quicker to dirty their hands with stolen ideas. It hurts to feel a betrayal of this kind. It is like someone has wandered into your head and your heart and helped themselves to your soul before dressing it up in disguise so that they may parade it about as though it never had anything to do with you at all.

Jurisdiction for this crime may yet be limited, but for now I calm myself with the knowledge that no matter how hard they try those who seek to copy will only ever produce a cheap imitation of the artistry they hope to recreate.

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