Trendzilla

"Anna Sui, is that you?"

God.

It pains me to say this, but as often as I sing the praises of mall chain Forever 21, it's hard to deny that taking a walk through their crowded aisles may be an experience evocative of flipping through that last issue of Vogueyou got in the mail.

Didn't I see that shirt at Marc by Marc Jacobs?

And isn't that dress a Diane von Furstenburg?

Anna Sui, is that you?

Jacobs, von Furstenburg and Sui are just three designers out of more than 20 who are suing Forever 21 for copyright infringement. The designs in question range from Jacobs' Hudson leather tote (original price: $1,275; Forever 21: less than $30) to von Furstenburg's silk "Cerisier" smock dress (original price: $325; Forever 21: $32).

When I first heard about all these lawsuits, I figured the designers didn't really have much to worry about. People who could afford Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenburg were going to go right on buying their Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenburg, while people like you and I were going to go on coveting the shit out of those people, and then purchasing some "designer-inspired" looks.

Plus, there's the whole thing about paying for what you get—it's about quality, right?

Then I got a good look at the dresses in question, and I love you, D, but considering that the von Furstenburg and Forever 21 designs are both made of 100 percent silk and manufactured in China, I'd be pretty pissed if I were Diane, too—but not for the reasons you'd think. The pattern, colors and measurements are nearly identical and, to most people, barely distinguishable in methods of fabrication.

Yeah, there's that whole thing about the violation of intellectual property and blah-blah-blappity-blah, but the extreme similarities between the two items only remind me just how much these designers are marking up their prices.

Is Diane pissed because they stole her design? Or is she pissed that they've basically unearthed how cheap it reallyis to produce these things? (Probably a little of both.)

I saw this leggy girl making her way to her car in a familiar-looking color-block cover-up. I told her I loved her Marc by Marc Jacobs sundress and asked if I could take her photograph—and that's when she said it wasn't Marc Jacobs, but a $19.99 Forever 21 replica, practically identical to the Spring 2007 getup I justsaw at Saks.

And that's probably one of the most threatening things about Forever 21's appropriation—that their affordable, nearly identical knockoffs are available in stores at the same time their pricier counterparts are.

The latest lawsuit against Forever 21 was filed by No Doubt front woman and LAMB designer (remember when LAMB was just a side project?) Gwen Stefani. The design in question is part of the popular-with-teens Harajuku Lovers line. The phrase "Harajuku Lovers" is written in Japanese characters and checkered with large white hearts in Stefani's collection. This checkered style is emulated in Forever 21's line, only instead of reading "Harajuku Lovers," it reads "Forever Lovers."

Sounds petty, but the Harajuku Lovers reps have claimed their brand has "suffered and continues to suffer damage to its business reputation," which I doubt. But I guess I understand all these lawsuits, and none of them is surprising.

 
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