|RinRin, Asuka, myself, and Maki|
A long time ago, a friend gave me a skirt she didn't want anymore, a replica of an Angelic Pretty design. The quality isn't bad, and I wear it once in a blue moon, but I never feel good about it. The topic of design replication is often over-discussed, but it's been a goal of mine to openly take a stance on more controversial issues. In the past, I've avoided being opinionated in fear of causing conflict. That is beginning to change. If I want to make a difference in our community, remaining silent won't do any good.
I had never been a fan of replicas, and to this day, I won't look down on a person who wears one, but I started to have stronger feelings on the subject after helping out Angelic Pretty and Harajuku Hearts at ACEN this year. (I was feeling nostalgic early this morning and re-reading the entry I wrote about it which is why this comes to mind.) After getting to know the designers a little bit and seeing how much work and love they put into their art, it felt more personal.
Here were two young artists and businesswomen spending countless hours and sleepless nights on their livelihood, and imagining people were making money by essentially putting that passion into a (figuratively speaking) photocopy machine offended me. Maki and Asuka no longer were imaginary, "larger-than-life" figures to me; they became real people who I was fortunate enough to work under for a couple days and who I truly admire. How dare someone ride on the backs of their success?
I believe replication is theft. That said, I can understand the reasoning behind why some people buy replicas. Perhaps the original version would not fit them, or the cost was too financially straining. (To play devil's advocate on that last point, I feel that many people who claim it might not have the patience to save the money, but I know that is not always true.) I do sympathize, but I can't see how it justifies supporting theft. I think there are other options which were overlooked.
In terms of fit, there are plenty of wonderful independent brands and seamstresses who can accommodate sizing needs. Chantilly, for example, has stunning collections with sizing geared more towards plus-sized individuals. In terms of affordability, there is the second-hand market, one can hand-make garments if she/he is able, off-brand finds, and once again, independent brands and seamstresses. Pink Macaroon Clothing, before it was on hiatus, was very affordable compared to major brands at under $100 for skirts. Even major brands like Putumayo are relatively affordable. (Have you seen how adorable their new series is, by the way? It's still available at Harajuku Hearts!)
To emphasize something I mentioned earlier, I will not think less of a person for wearing replicas. There's a lot more to that person than one choice I do not support. Would I rather they purchase from original artists? Of course, but that won't stop me from potentially being her or his friend.
Nearly every print that becomes popular today is instantly replicated, and it is a huge problem. I don't know enough about law to make a statement on its legality, but it needs to stop. The issue is something that extends far beyond our niche market with every major fashion label as well. What makes it particularly problematic in Lolita fashion is the nature of a niche market. None of these designers and business owners are mega-corporations, so the effect on their profit is more like a canyon than a crack in the pavement.
Do you think the seamstresses who produce replicas can be stopped? Do you believe they should? Let me know your opinions in the comments!