That in the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk you can find cheap rip-offs of couture outfits by well-known designers, is known to Delhites. But as the menace reached the Capital’s boutique hub Shahpur Jat, fashion designer Reynu Taandon, whose couture showstopper was being sold at less than half the price at a store, had to resort to legal action.
In a first of sorts, a Delhi court ordered a raid at the store selling replicas of Taandon’s creations and sealed the outfits, indicating that Indian designers might be on their way to finally taking action against blatant copyright infringement in fashion.
“A friend informed me that one of my best-selling anarkali lehengas priced at Rs 1.9 lakh was being sold in Shahpur Jat for Rs 70,000. I didn’t believe it initially and sent someone to check. The piece on display wasn’t just a copy, it was the exact same outfit,” says Taandon, who then filed a suit seeking permanent injunction restraining infringement of copyright, passing-off and payment of damages against the store selling the outfit. On Wednesday, the court ordered the local commissioner to take action. While Abhilasha Bharal, the owner of the Shahpur Jat store, Atara, refused our request for comment, the designer fraternity hailed the action. “It is the sheer lack of creativity that leads to these store-owners stooping to the level of replicating a designer’s collection,” says Suneet Varma. “It’s great that someone finally took the step of taking legal action against those who copy designer outfits,” says designer Rina Dhaka.
She adds that being over-worked, most designers do not find time to take legal action. “Copying happens all the time but what doesn’t know what to do about it. Everyone knows that the drape kurtas are our signature style. But we see so many others copying asymmetrical and draped kurtas,” says Nikhil Mehra of the Shantanu-Nikhil duo. The customers don’t mind the hundreds of small stores offering cheaper versions of the clothes. “I always wanted a Manish Malhotra or Sabyasachi Lehnga for my wedding but there’s no way I can afford to spend lakhs on it. Stores in markets such as Shahpur Jat and Karol Bagh almost exact copies of these lehngas for not even half the price,” says Shruti Sethi, who is getting married in April and currently on a trousseau buying spree. “I can understand the fact that our stuff is highly priced but there is a lot of effort and quality that goes into making every single couture piece. It is painful to see someone else copy it in cheaper quality and destroy the creativity in the process,” says Taandon.
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