Trademarks in fashion
As explained below, the fashion industry doesn't have copyrights or patents. What it does have, however, are trademarks. It's legal to make a bag that looks just like a Prada bag, but it's not legal to make a bag that carries Prada's logo. (People still do it, of course, but that's counterfeiting, and it'll get you in trouble.)
Now, you might've noticed that the fashion industry seems enamored of logos and brand icons and all sorts of other identifying trademarks. Some scholars argue that that's a reaction to the absence of copyright: Since they can't patent the design, they have to protect the thing they can protect -- the trademarked logo -- integral to the look of the piece. One upside of adding a copyright to fashion, then, might be fewer garish logos plastered all over everything.
Other scholars disagree. Whatever the reason for the first logo, it's inarguable now that people like logos. Lots of brands give out logo stickers that people like to put on their cars and laptops and guitar cases. For better or worse, slapping logos on everything is an innovation that consumers seem to reward, which is at least part of the reason companies keep doing it.
Moreover, the pressure toward logos isn't so strong that it effects all product categories. You might expect to see logos all over high-end dresses and suits, as those are expensive designs that can't be copyrighted. But they're almost totally absent from both. Instead, they're most prevalent on things such as handbags and T-shirts, which implies that this is a matter of consumer taste rather than economic necessity.
Anyway, I don't know the answer to this, but I thought it an interesting debate worth mentioning.
Photo credit: By Maria Valentino/The Washington Post
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