The Fashion Law Exclusive - In a recent article, we posed the following question: at what point does all of the copying that is so rampant in fashion simply cross the line? Well, it seems we have found our answer. Copying becomes too much when the fast fashion retailer either: a) confuses its own blatant copy for the real thing, and/or b) starts attributing the original design to its own brand. Case in point: on the heels of Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards, our favorite serial copycat Nasty Gal took to its social media accounts to spotlight Taylor Swift's jumpsuit and identify the garment as a design of its own. In reality, Swift was not wearing Nasty Gal. She was wearing a white jumpsuit that Paris-based design house, Balmain, showed as part of its Spring/Summer 2015 collection - a fact that has been pointed out by an array of major websites, including Glamour, E!, Yahoo Fashion, Style.com, etc., and verified by Balmain on its own social media pages.
After Balmain's S/S 2015 show, Nasty Gal began stocking a nearly identical jumpsuit - the Frisco Inferno Knit Cutout Jumpsuit - under its eponymous label as the Los Angeles-based brand tends to do (Side note: according to a customer review, the jumpsuit "was disappointing. It looks very cheap and poorly made."). In case you're not familiar with its business model, Nasty Gal proclaims that the items included in its "Nasty Gal" collection are designed by its own in-house team. I suppose they use the word "design" very, very loosely over at Nasty Gal.
But back to Monday night's social media posts. The fast fashion retailer, which recently garnered a second round of funding to expand, posted a photo of Swift on the red carpet along with the caption: "One piece wonder. Taylor Swift in the Nasty Gal Frisco Inferno Jumpsuit at the [Billboard Music Awards]" - along with a link to shop the garment. It is worth noting that Nasty Gal boasts 1.6 million Instagram followers alone. After a bunch of followers noticed the error (and filled the photo's comment section with indications of it), Nasty Gal deleted the posts. But only after the jumpsuit sold out. (Talk about banking on Taylor Swift's influence to sell your cheaply-made copies).
So, what are we to make of this? We can certainly conclude one of two things. Either Nasty Gal is so good at copying other brands' garments stitch-for-stitch that even its employees cannot tell the difference between the real thing and the copy, OR Nasty Gal knew that Swift was wearing Balmain and was using this opportunity to sell one of its near exact copies.
Ordinarily, we would try to give the retailer responsible for the erroneous posts the benefit of the doubt and assume they were confused, but Nasty Gal? Not a chance. Correct me if you think I'm wrong but given this retailer's not-so-nice history of blatant copying, we simply have to assume this is not much more than a shady marketing ploy gone wrong. Moreover, with so much coverage of Swift's outfit choice, including clear mentions that it is a Balmain jumpsuit, we simply can't let Nasty Gal off the hook for this one. While Balmain's notoriously pro-Zara creative director will likely care less, we are here to tell you that copying isn't cool and neither is misleading consumers. Thoughts?