With the Academy Awards red carpet slated to begin in a few short hours, it is interesting to consider what effect this momentous night in film has on the fashion industry as a whole - from high end houses to their fast fashion counterparts. We certainly know that for a designer, landing such a coveted red carpet is significant, as it leads to an influx of press, sales and other opportunities. But do not forget, tonight's awards provide an opportunity for fast fashion copyists alike.
As Eric Wilson, fashion news director of InStyle magazine, told Fortune recently, “Runway shows don’t have same impact as they once did, mainly because there’s so much of it and it’s overcrowded. One red carpet hit at the Oscars is equivalent to a year’s worth of marketing for a designer.” And that makes sense. The Oscars red carpet is viewed by individuals across the entire world; that is a far more expansive audience than for a fashion industry-specific event, such as a runway show.
But with such intense exposure obviously comes downsides, one of the most significant being the post-red carpet proliferation of copies. Each season, e-commerce sites, such as ideeli, waste no time offering line-for-line copies of the evening’s most noteworthy frocks. As Racked noted on the heels of the 2012 Oscars, ideeli began offering "celebrity-inspired" red carpet gowns just days after the awards show, while many sites other sites offered blatant imitations of the red carpet gowns.
In case the inspiration vs. imitation distinction isn't entirely clear, imitation usually takes the form of a party copying designer dresses stitch-by-stitch and then selling them for a fraction of the price. Inspiration is when a design is interpreted to slightly resemble or embody the original design but is clearly not a copy. In the US, blatant stitch-for-stitch imitation is legal and that is why exact copies of so many of the Oscars dresses will be available for $300 online within weeks of Sunday's event! Think that's wrong? We do, too.