DIET PRADA: Fashion’s Only Hope in the World of Social Media

DIET PRADA: Fashion’s Only Hope in the World of Social Media

Plagiarism. Piracy. Copying. Stealing.

Whatever you want to call it, we all know it exists. It is a problem that has followed the fashion world from the beginning. And yet, there has never been an effective solution… until now. Diet Prada (@diet_prada) is an account on the extremely popular social media platform of Instagram.

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With over 1.6 million (yes, million, as in 7 digits) followers, Diet Prada has taken on the role of exposing the brands that copy and profit off of the work of others. The account, or really Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler, the brains behind the account, have become the protectors of the brands that cannot stand up for themselves.

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Why you should even read this article, you might ask? Well, if the mere existence of plagiarism does not disgust you enough, the mere existence of Diet Prada speaks to a larger phenomenon about social media and fashion in general. Social media intensified the problem of piracy. There’s no denying it. Young and new designers post their creations across their various accounts to get eyes on their work. A person no longer needs to take out an ad in the newspaper or on a billboard overlooking some freeway for the public to notice them. At the same time, their designs are now available to the sharks who desire to take them. Social media has given established companies the blueprints to the creations of the young and innovative. At the same time, social media has also provided the only effective solution (i.e. Diet Prada) to a problem that has plagued the world of fashion long before social media was even a thing.

In this blog, we are going to run through a couple of key points that will ultimately show how Diet Prada is the last line of defense for emerging designers against established brands. We will look at:

1.    the mediatization of fashion (I know that is a big word, do not fear, the idea behind it is relatively simply)

2.    how the current legal system and rights of designers are utterly ineffective

3.    a specific post by @diet_prada in order to highlight the awesome power of the account

Mediatization of Fashion 

“The interest is not on the idea of communicating fashion through the media, but on doing fashion through the media”

-Agnès Rocamora in “Mediatization and Digital Media in the Field of Fashion”

As I mentioned, social media lets young and new designers (who do not have the reach or capital to advertise their clothes in traditional forms of media) get eyes on their designs. But what changes when you post a design on social media is how the public views it. Fashion seen on a screen is inherently different from fashion seen in person. Therefore, designers actually change the way they create fashion because with the rise of social media, the public receives fashion differently. “Doing fashion through the media” means that the way fashion is presented (now through social media) controls the way fashion is designed. 

Current Design Rights Are the W.O.A.T. (Worst of All Time)

Not only are design rights unhelpful in the fight against piracy, they are also unknown by the designers that would use them. I looked at an article called “Investigating Risks of Design Piracy and Perceptions of the Design Right” by scholars Alice Janssens and Mariangela Lavanga to gain an understanding of the current legal system in fashion. Basically, even if a designer is able to make the case to a court that they own a design, the court won’t necessarily agree that designer’s rights were violated. And registering a design does not provide any real benefit to the designer. It comes as no surprise that the scholars found that from of the emerging designers they interviewed, most of them said they had NO CLUE what designs rights, copyright, trademarking, or disclosure procedure were. So, what is a designer to do when a fast fashion company like Fashion Nova *cue eye-roll* steals their design?

Diet Prada in Action

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This post gives us a great example of how Diet Prada protects the little guy and does a great job at it. First, Diet Prada places the 2 other Instagram posts side by side to show how similar they are. On the left is a hat by Olmos y Flores, a small Mexican clothing brand, on the head of some unnamed model. On the right is a hat by Jacquemus, a French high fashion house, on the head of none other than Bella Hadid.

The comment of the Diet Prada post reads:

So… the @jacquemus hat on Bella [Hadid] that went viral actually belongs to Mexican brand @olmosyflores . More specifically, the hat was created using various local techniques from Jalisco, Michoacán, and the San Luis Acatlán region, the designers told @voguemexico . We’ve seen this happen before—a brand with more power and hunger for a major credit swoops in and steals the opportunity from a smaller brand. It just so happened that Jacquemus had already created THE hat of SS18, so any giant hat could rightfully be his, right? Nope. When you’re the industry’s current darling, you can try….but, you can’t always have it all lol.

From the comment, we can gather that Diet Prada is trying to say that Jacquemus’s past success doesn’t justify it copying the design of someone else. Looking at the post, anyone can see the resemblance between the two hats immediately. But Diet Prada doesn’t just throw the two images up on its account. Diet Prada does a well-researched takedown in accessible (and frankly funny) language to really kill the copycat.

They tell us:

1.    Who copied and who was copied

2.    How the French house stole the Mexican techniques sourcing Vogue Magazine

3.    How this kind of thing happens a lot

4.    Jokes at the end that attack Jacquemus and are genuinely funny

It’s important to include that fact that Jacquemus has 1.5 million followers on Instragram while Olmos y Flores has just over 16.7 thousand followers (less than 1/100th of the followers Jacquemus has).

Diet Prada is the voice that Olmos y Flores simply does not have. And Diet Prada is effective. No surprise that if you scroll through the Instagram account of Jacquemus, you won’t be able to find a picture of Bella Hadid wearing Olmos y Flores’s straw hat…

If piracy is accepted, why create anything new when you can just look at social media and steal someone else’s design? The fashion world needs accounts like Diet Prada to expose the thieves or else the day will come when innovation in fashion simply disappears.

Works Cited 

Alice Janssens & Mariangela Lavanga (2018): An Expensive, Confusing, and Ineffective Suit of Armor: Investigating Risks of Design Piracy and Perceptions of the Design Rights Available to Emerging Fashion Designers in the Digital Age, Fashion Theory, DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2018.1515159

Agnès Rocamora (2017): Mediatization and Digital Media in the Field of Fashion, Fashion Theory, 21:5, 505-522, DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2016.1173349

Diet_Prada. “Jacquemus Hat and Olmos y Flores” Instagram, 29 June 2018, www.instagram.com/p/BknQy5xHBa0/.

Falquez, Camila. “Tony Liu & Lindsey Schuyleris One of the 500 People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry in 2018.” The Business of Fashion, 27 Mar. 2019, www.businessoffashion.com/community/people/tony-liu-lindsey-schuyler. 

McRobbie, Angela, et al. Fashion Micro-Enterprises in London, Berlin, Milan. RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe), 2016, pp. 23–34, Fashion Micro-Enterprises in London, Berlin, Milan

“Mediatization.” Def.2a. oed.com. Oxford English Dictionary, 1981-2014. Web. 5 April. 2019.

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