When copying designs becomes a norm in the fashion world

Published: June 2, 2015

Nida Khurram has taken those gorgeous illustrations from Portuguese artist Antonio Soares without his consent. PHOTO: ANTONIO SOARES FACEBOOK PAGE/MARIAMSAYS

Committing plagiarism under the guise of inspiration seems to be the new norm for fashion designers these days. And Pakistani designer Nida Khurram is no different. 

Keeping in mind the latest trend of digital print clothing, Khurram utilised modern-day patterns and illustrations in her Pret Summer Collection 2015 that was showcased at Fashion Pakistan Lounge in Karachi on May 30, 2015 and it will run till the stock lasts.

Khurram, who was previously associated with the Asian Institute of Fashion Design (AIFD) and famous for her western collections and motifs, revealed while talking to The Express Tribune,

“I’ve been really inspired by fashion illustrations of London, Milan and NYC based artists. Their work has motivated me to bring the collection forward through digital prints.”

However, keeping ‘inspirations’ aside, it seems that she has intentionally tried to curate the fashion illustrations of foreign artists to enhance her own summer collection – and that too without giving due credit to the artist. If this isn’t plagiarism, I don’t know what is.

And in her latest collection, Khurram has shamelessly copied illustrations from Portuguese artist Antonio Soares without his consent, and she didn’t even have the courtesy to mention his name anywhere.

Clearly resentful, Soares has criticised this outrageous plagiarism by posting about it on his Facebook timeline. The level of his distress can be judged by the words he uses to express his disapproval of Khurram’s shameful act,

News from Pakistan: a DISGUSTING collection “inspired in fashion illustrators” says the “fashion designer”! Using my work (and others also) without my permition!!!! Grande Vaca!!!! Feel free to send her Messages” (sic)

Soares’s Facebook profile has an array of analogous illustrations. Anyone can relate the striking similarities between Khurram’s design and his unique images. In fact, two of the motifs are the exact copies printed on her cloths.

All around the world, decent designers are aware of the fact that copying or stealing an intellectual property of a person is an awful act for which they can be dragged into a lawsuit. Replication of any artist’s work without his authorisation or legal consent, and paying him no royalty for the used designs absolutely falls under ‘stealing’.

Soares’s instagram profile categorically mentions “copyright and license of my illustrations owned by me”. If, even after this disclaimer, Khurram had the audacity to steal his designs for her own fame, then she should rest assured – this has definitely made her famous (read: infamous).

With the steady bombardment of photos and illustrations that we stumble upon accidentally or unexpectedly on fashion blogs and popular photo sharing websites – for instance Tumblr, DeviantArt, WeHeartIt, Instagram and Pinterest – it can be complicated to hunt down the genesis of creativity. But in Khurram’s case, it wasn’t an ambiguous account from where she got her “inspiration” – it was from a well-established fashion designer. She should have at least considered this before blatantly putting her (now tarnished) reputation at stake.

In my opinion, Khurram ignored the intellectual copyrights of Soares’s illustrations and that’s why she presented her dresses to mass fashion markets with such confidence. May be she thought the world, and particularly Pakistani peopl,e will never be able to know the real maker behind her designs. What she forgot in the whole process is that we are living in a world of technology where everything is just a click away.

Online catalogues, videos of international fashion shows and global magazines make it quite unproblematic to figure out who grabbed what from where and whom. Many of us can still recall the famous Sana Safinaz’s lawn case of using Spanish retail brand Zara’s pattern.

Photo: Zara silk printed pants & Sana Safinaz 11a and 11b from Spring Summer 2013.

All professionals are ambassadors of their country; anything they do is a representation of the entire nation. And in this regard, Khurram has failed us all. Not only did she rip off the hard work of a professional artist, and commit an intellectual crime, she also brought bad repute to Pakistanis everywhere. Now, just because of her, every Pakistani designer’s integrity will be questioned and their hard work will be marred by the shadow of doubt and cynicism. She has brought dishonour to the Pakistani fashion industry and I do not know how our thriving industry will cope with this blow.

But Khurram is not the first designer who has done something like this. And as the trends are going, I don’t think she will be the last. Not just fashion, almost all of our art-related fields have non-professionals who have copied, plagiarised and ripped off other artist’s intellectual properties.

Photo: Chanel Runway and Origins

Photo: Sana Safinaz Spring Summer 2012 & Emilio Pucci.

The most significant step towards stopping plagiarism in Pakistan is to introduce a proper and uncomplicated code of conduct and guarantee its complete observance via an efficient complaint process.

Pakistan Fashion Design Counsel (PFDC) should devise a strategy to put off such practices by introducing exemplary punishments for the illegal act of plagiarism. Moreover, the designer fraternity should come forward and stand by with  hardcore rules as a commitment to curb ritual of bootlegging.

Tanveer Khadim

Tanveer Khadim

An avid reader, freelance writer and a blogger, Tanveer is pursuing fashion designing. She has a passion for cooking, attended cookery courses and tweets as @TheFusionDiary (twitter.com/TheFusionDiary)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Aaqib Farooq

    Disgusting. Nida should say sorry to the artist Antonio. Recommend

  • Kiran

    Pathetic dress designs based on shameful stealing. I have to refrain myself from buying copy designs in future.Recommend

  • Khan

    Really Ashamed! I always knew how uninspired these designers are, they have no creativity their motto is follow whatever Europe is creating.Recommend

  • Nuzhat

    What a pity! Such cheaters bring bad name to our Pskistan and still she is insisting that its her tribute not plagiarism. She shiuld hsve some character to own her shamful act and should. Say Sorry to all people Recommend

  • Anjum Qadir

    Fashion plagiarism is a common act of fraud and it is considered as unethical all over the world. Pakistan is full of copycats who sell their plagiarised designs to clients.Recommend

  • fayza

    I agree with the writer of this article….should have strict laws for plagirismRecommend

  • Zain Ali

    This is probably a major symptom of designer’s ignorance and certainly it is a matter of concern when it is happening in Pakistan’s small fashion world.Recommend

  • Safina Shah

    Thanks for this thoughtful article and for taking up this issue. Someone please ask Nida Khurram ‘Where is morality?’Recommend

  • U_SAF

    This is a serious crime, imagine you have created something you are proud off and someone just steal it and use it for her own socioeconomic success. What could have been an happy ending had the designed asked Mr. Antonio for partnership to create masterpieces.

    Not only this, many of our singers do copy.. for example saying Tribute to Madam Noor Jehan….! bits and pieces from the original music to create a mix of their own. Many people will say this is happening in India too which is true, but you can’t hide your crime hiding behind them.

    We certainly don’t want to be branded like Chineses…. we need to keep the originality and creativity.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Appologies from my side….Recommend

  • Commemtator

    This is a shame. Many designers copy each other, they hide original sources. God knows when will such people learn from their mistakes. BTW the original illustrations are marvelous artwork.Recommend

  • Commemtator

    “What could have been an happy ending had the designed asked Mr. Antonio for partnership to create masterpieces.”

    True it would have been a package of respectful coordination for designer Nida Khurram.Recommend

  • Shaikh

    Very disappointing, she was a teacher now after this episode how can her students respect her, they will always remember that their teacher stole designs from a man living miles away.Recommend

  • Shaikh

    I concur, that should be the attitude of a designer’s customer. It will also help in halting the plagiarism.Recommend

  • Rabia Saif Joya

    I fully agree with the words mentioned above ! Recommend

  • Saaliha

    This is so terrible. I can’t believe these designers are earning so much for stolen designs.Recommend

  • Nighat Uzair

    Just read a news where she said it is a Tribute….What a defence of Nonsense!!! nothing will change the fact copying without permission is plagiarism!Recommend

  • Reader

    when did copying becomes inspiration and tribute??????
    Whenever a tribute is given to a personality; people praise a person to highlight the name and work of that person as a sign of respect. It is not a tribute if you are not mentioning person name and his work!Recommend

  • Reader

    when laws for the protection of an intellectual property are weak, cheaters do this kind of stealing and tarnish image of their country.
    I agree with you about Chinese products, although they have captured the international market for business but lots of people do not consider them good and reliable , as a consequence Chinese have lost consumers trust.
    Originality and creativity goes beyond borders and gain reputation for long run.Recommend

  • Reader

    But she failed to defend her stance, her hollow words are not enough to satisfy others.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    These copycats used it for financial gain. Recommend

  • Mariyum Sultan

    full case of lack of responsibility and character on the part of designer, she has made all Pakistanis feeling ashamed.Recommend

  • Talat

    Pakistan Fashion Design Counsel should take action by putting a ban on all the copycats of their fields.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Chor !!!Recommend

  • Kashif

    It is not a designer work but a Photoshop art. Recommend

  • Kashif

    Students have already announced it a plagiarized work. None is approving it. Recommend

  • Atiq

    Its amazing how some people are supporting it by callin it inspirationRecommend

  • Lubna

    Fashion houses and their designers are not only copying western cloths but also Indian designer cloths and this is horrible, a designer must come up with own new innovative styles rather than plagiarism.Recommend

  • Lubna

    Fake degrees and fake designs, these people turned Pakistan into a fake machine producing everything fake.Recommend