Fashion Pakistan

Sana Safinaz and the copy pasting mania.

This post initially appeared in Express Tribune Blogs.

Ever look at those expensive designer dresses in the windows and felt sad? Ever felt left out because you couldn’t possibly afford to buy a Prada or a Balenciaga dress?

Fret not. For Pakistani designers have a genius way of saving you of this misery.

No no. I’m not talking about cheap knockoffs. Oh no. This is a strangely real deal. You’ll still be wearing designer clothes. Probably might even cost a ton. But you’ll be halfway there on the social ladder.

Sana Safinaz just copied Pronovias, a Spanish brand. They’ve also copied Zara before. I wonder if this is supposed to enhance the brand’s value. “Hey look, we don’t just sell original prints. We sell COPIED FROM FAMOUS DESIGNER prints as well which you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise!”

Which would have been ok if they hadn’t issued this notice where they’re warning ‘copycats’ not to reprint their designs and sell at cheap prices. What goes around comes around. Karma designers, are you listening? You’ve been guilty of this too. Actually, there are hardly ANY designers in the field that haven’t committed the sin of faulty ‘inspiration’.

Fashion blogger and plagiarism spotter, Amir Bukhari runs and extensive and I must say, eye-opening blog on these copycats. Bukhari’s blog collates various design inspirations from catwalks as well where they even copy model stylyings. Some of them are direct copies from the fashion shoots. Is the situation this bad in the Pakistani fashion industry? I had no idea. And from sudden self-pity of being unable to afford most of these dresses I am now extremely amused. Thanks, Aamir Bukhari. I feel so much better going through these. It’s like a bizarre schadenfreude of sorts. I’m amused at the level of chaapa that has gone into these big names and at the same time saddened by the fact that all these designers win ‘awards’ and are major movers and shakers of the industry.

A long time ago a friend of mine, who worked under a big label, told me how this label would exploit interns by getting them to design outfits and then would fire them or just not give them jobs – despite the label keeping all of the interns’ designs and later on claiming credit for them. My friend was shocked to find some of her designs hanging in the display of Big Label’s windows even though she had not been given a job in said fashion house.

We get it. It’s a tough market out there. Especially when every third begum has turned into a fashion designer and has a boutique on MM Alam or Zam Zama Road. We get that the competition is fierce. But the tragedy here is, dear designers, that there is no dearth of talent in this country. What you’re actually doing is depriving genuinely talented people and to save a buck or two (ok lots of bucks) you’re taking the easy route of plagiarizing materials off unknown brands that the desi lawn-buying, pret-wearing woman in Pakistan has no clue about. She doesn’t know who Balenciaga is but she knows who Sana Safinaz is. She doesn’t know who Tom Ford is but she knows who Ali Xeeshan is. So she’s wowed by what she sees with little thought regarding what patterns were in the Milan Fashion Week in 2012 and are now seen on her sleeve with the brand label Sana Safinaz. Isn’t it enough, dear designers, that you’re already employing cheap labor in Pakistan and making thousands of rupees of profits off each dress and have the fortune of marketing your dresses into a fairly gullible demographic that only watches morning shows and scarcely flips through Harper’s Bazaar or Cosmopolitan?

A while ago I lived in Hong Kong. It’s one of the most fashion forward cities in the world. And I realized that while going through the cheap street markets in Yau Ma Tei where even the canopied clothesstands had fashionable material. Hong Kong’s Central District is host to one of the largest shops of the biggest brands in the world. I was once window watching BCBG Max Azria and I noticed something eerily similar on my facebook. A little known designer had ripped off BCBG Max Azria’s striped evening dress. I laughed in disbelief. Do people still do that, I wondered. In this day and age of social media and snapchat and live streaming? Apparently yes. But thanks to copycat spotters, that won’t be the story for long. Through these people with keen eyes and a sense of integrity that doesn’t come easily in a cutthroat industry, copycat spotters would probably be able to stop these big labels from plagiarizing.

To follow Aamir Bukhari, check out his instagram:


1 comment on “Sana Safinaz and the copy pasting mania.

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