Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it – copying behaviour. Are copycats the evolution?
These days it seems everyone is copying everyone. You can check runway shows from all big brands and there will be two ore more items looking pretty similar to all the others. Even the dadcore style is everywhere by now. Chunky dad sneakers are not a niche product anymore. They are mainstream, just like the good old jogging highs back in the days when style was first inspired by working class heroes from the street. Preferably combined with a mullet haircut.
Another classic norm core item that has became high fashion mainstream is the baby blue and white striped shirt. Frowned upon and just there to serve casual business men for many years – it is now visible in pretty much every runway collection.
I still remember reading about Helmut Lang who had to black out his NYC atelier windows in the 90’s since the Donna Karan crew was always peeking through to copy some of Lang’s new desings.
Nowadays masters of the nonchalant, non-elegant style like Martine Rose and Demna Gvasalia have inspired the whole fashion industry to even the smallest uprising brands in villages worldwide. Where does copying end and where does inspiration start or is good design always just mainstream in the end?
Some designers try to fight the rising popularity of copying designs. Alexander Wang for example is in legal battles with other brands like Philipp Plein, but also fast fashion chains like forever21, about copying his styles almost every month or so. The issue has lead to the creation of tools such as Reverse image search for artists, so that they can track where their art is used.
These days even Gucci is fighting copycats – which about 10 years ago when I still worked there seems not to be an issue for the company. Gucci even didn’t reprimand counterfeit productions and copycats. But already back then the counterfeit business was blooming.
Back to the here and now: Currently Gucci won a lawsuit against forever21, because they stole the classic green-red-green webbing and let it appear on a competely ripped-off bomber style jacket.
So is copying bad or just the evolution of everything? I think copying design just because it’s on trend and sells well is just simply speaking really bad. Especially when it’s just a cheap rip-off. Drawing a line between copying and getting inspired is not easy, but we all could use some common sense – especially when deliberately buying copies at fast fashion chains to “get the look” (of the originals of course).
Getting inspired by current design movements is not bad at all. Just make sure not to grab everything that’s hot now. Find special pieces and make them your own and please don’t support fast fashion chains at all! If you don’t have the money for high end pieces check out your nearby flea market or second hand store to get your unique yet contemporary style.
So you still don’t believe me that everyone is copying from another? Check Diet Prada on Instagram! This account is here just to let you know about big time copy kings like the overhyped designer Virgil Abloh.
Instagram created an even bigger group of people copying from one another. It’s not just designers anymore. If you look at most bloggers and “influencers” worldwide it’s like you are looking at just one feed. From the avocado toast to the fitness selfie to the unicorn flotation device and to the travel bloggers in bikinis or the always same pictures of waterfalls and mountain peaks. An uninspiring uniformity brought to another level.
Luckily you can still find inspiring individuals in the masses of similar pictures on Instagram. Pro tip: Less followers most likely equals more unique and inspiring content! There is also an account which gives you a good overview about what’s happening (repeatedly) on Instagram: insta_repeat
The copycat science
Science talks about a phenomena they call “mirroring”. That means people tend to copy their counterpart’s behaviour. So pretty much nobody is safe from copying one another. In order to survive and evolve, mankind had to learn and invent many things including socially accepted behaviour – and that was done by mirroring.
The question nowadays is – are today’s tastemakers really the ones that have evolved the furthest? Or has evolution lead to a dead end where we follow the most stupid ones? Copying tie pod challenges and glitter slime youtubers and buying stupid stuff just because it has a red box logo saying “Supreme” on it (which btw is also copied from Barbara Kruger’s artworks) – doesn’t really sound like evolution to me.
And last (but not least), even the artworld has it’s issues with copycats. ;) Check out whos__who to see for yourself.
Location: Lee County – Florida
Photography: Lady Venom / Marion Vicenta Payr