Cases of designer-copying-designer in the fashion industry are too common to count. But Jodhpur blue blood Raghavendra Rathore is now taking legal steps to make sure his designs are protected from mass mimicry. Applying for copyrights for his version of the bandhgala and the Jodhpur riding breeches, which his label has been custom-making as their core product for over two decades now, Rathore claims he’s trying to preserve and authenticate relics of his royal heritage.
“We’ve just opened a store at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace, and plan to open one every three months in some part of the country. Since there is a serious corporate angle to the business now, we decided to put a stamp of authentication on our products.”The designer relates how his studio is often inundated with requests for alterations and maintenance work on bandhgalas that are not even from his label. “And because someone is copying our prints, cuts and fabrics, we’re in a bind, as we can’t prove that the jackets are copies and not ours,” he says, adding, “Now, if anyone copies elements like the print and the lining we use on the collar to our Hindi name on the label, we can prove that it’s a violation of the copyright.”
Rathore insists that his is not an attempt to claim rights to the original creation of the bandhgala. “Foreign brands, especially Italian labels, offer an imitation of the culture. But the way they cut it is very different. For example, the armhole of the original Jodhpur jacket is very high because it is meant to be worn close to the body. But Italians cut the armhole low for the sake of comfort.” Rathore hopes that the copyright will benefit young design students who want to master the original techniques. “We have about five pieces with us, which were found in an attic, and are about 150 years old,” he says, adding, “It’s almost like a museum. Since this style will have an authentic seal on it, history can be protected in many ways. And students will learn how to cut the traditional Indian jodhpur.”