Budding fashion icon, G-Dragon, has put his name on yet another brand for a collaboration collection, this time teaming up with Samsung-owned fashion brand, 8 Seconds. The collection, entitled, 8" x gd, is being sold primarily through Korean e-commerce site, SSF Shop, and has already garnered quite a bit of attention from fans questioning its originality. It appears that the K-Pop star looked to some of his favorite existing garments – such as those from Raf Simons, Vetements, Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood (the latter of which used “Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die” as the name of her and Malcolm McLaren’s revolutionary London boutique in the mid-1970’s) for inspiration.
What garments are we talking about? Well, consider Laurent’s yellow and blue striped shirt from Spring/Summer 2014, Raf Simons’ striped/patched tees (some of which date back to Fall/Winter 2001), and Vetements’ name-emblazoned black raincoat – all of which G-Dragon has been spotted wearing in the past. As for whether G-Dragon has taken a bit too much inspiration from the designer garments in question, it is very unlikely in accordance with U.S. law, at least.
As you may know, U.S. copyright law requires originality as a basis for protection and refuses to grant protection to ideas – as opposed to the expression of those ideas. What G-Dragon has done here is take some existing ideas (a striped t-shirt, a black raincoat, a shirt with some patches on it) and re-create them, albeit in his own way. This is fair game in terms of copyright law, partially because the striped t-shirt is not all that original and so, at this point in time, no one “owns” it (read: It is in the public domain). Moreover, some of the elements he allegedly copied are ideas (a shirt with patches on it), which are not afforded protection.
Had GD recreated the red and black stripe Raf Simons t-shirt – complete with the same Manic Street Preachers patches as Raf’s – that would likely give rise to potential claims of copyright infringement in connection with the photos themselves. However, since G-Dragon created a t-shirt bearing patches made up of photos of himself, he is in the clear there.
As for the Vetements-esque raincoat, he is safe from liability there, too – but on trademark grounds. Had he made raincoats that read “VETEMENTS” on the back, that would likely give rise to a claim of trademark infringement. That, however, is not the case here, as the term “Vetements” is nowhere in sight. (Note: Given that “Vetements” is merely the French word for “clothing,” it might be difficult for the brand to show that its name – and thus, its trademark – is distinctive).
With this in mind, it seems that G-Dragon did what just about every other designer is doing at the moment – looking to Raf Simons, Martin Margiela, and co. for inspiration and putting out their versions of it. Vetements is, after all, almost entirely made up on rip offs of Martin Margiela designs. While such practices may lead to questions of artistic integrity, they rarely lead to legal ramifications. It is only when such “inspiration” turns into downright imitation of protectable artistic expressions (as protected by copyright law) or trademarks, that the law comes into play.
So, shop on, G-Dragon fans. If you can get your hands on the collection, that is. G-Dragon and his fellow K-pop stars have selling power that puts many Western stars to shame, after all, which means this collection will sell out and it will sell out fast!