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The Trend Maker’s Catch-22

When it comes to big retailers like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters doing what they do best—supplying us with affordable, current trends—it might not actually be the Marcs and Wangs of the world who are really getting screwed. The Wall Street Journal asserts that it’s in fact the lesser-known, indie designers who are suffering in the knock-off war. Giants like American Eagle Outfitters are on the lookout for cute, niche items that could have a mass appeal, and the problem is that indie designers don’t possess the resources to keep up with demand: “Small designers face a particularly large burden; often, they lack deep pockets to chase down versions they find similar, and their brands are so little-known that customers often aren’t aware they’re not buying an original design.” This might explain why we’re seeing so many diffusion lines and capsule collections produced in partner with stores like Target—the smaller guys want to produce a cheaper version of their wares before someone else does and takes all the profit. So what’s to be done? Apparently, there are some legal ideas in the works: “There’s a bill bouncing around Congress that would allow clothing designers to copyright their creations. But critics argue it would benefit only big brands that have the resources to apply for and protect their copyrights, trademarks and patents.”

For now, this gives us something to think about: for those who are conscious about buying green clothes or shopping from corporations that vow sustainable practices, maybe we should also be giving thought to how “local” our purchases are. Granted, it’s not like we’re going to stop shopping at Target any time soon, but maybe we should think twice about buying obvious indie designer knock-offs. [Wall Street Journal]

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