Plagiarism in the fashion industry has long been a bane for designers not only in India, but internationally too. Ace fashion designer Rohit Bal says such cheap copies are not only a crime, but these parallel markets are also harming their business.
Bal agrees that people "lust" for designer wear, but he sees that as no reason to "copy" anyone's designs.
"Copying is a crime... I have been lusting a Rolls-Royce all my life, but that doesn't mean that I will copy one... everything with a certain kind of value is aspirational. Unfortunately, in my business what I do is not for everybody and everybody who wants it... and that doesn't mean they buy cheap copy. I can't stop them... but they must understand that it harms our business," Bal told IANS.
The 53-year-old believes that plagiarism is not justified as their work requires a lot of brainstorming.
"Everything what we do requires a lot of hardwork, research, development and extreme amount of patience, time and effort. For somebody, who just takes that idea and convert it into a cheap thing, is very harmful for us. It's harmful for our business and it's harmful for the entire fashion fraternity," he added.
Bal, however, does not find the customers who are purchasing such copies at fault.
"It's not the customer who is at fault... the people who are copying it are at fault," said the veteran designer, who is credited with changing the face of Indian fashion with his design sensibilities since launching his debut menswear line in 1990.
Bal says the plagiarised designer wear market is a racket, and that women come over to the stores, try on ensembles in the trial rooms and click photographs of their designs and then pass it on.
It needs to be stopped, says Bal, who hopes to start taking legal action against plagiarism, with the help of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI).
"I think the design fraternity through the FDCI is going to take a strong stand against plagiarism... and make sure these people stop doing it now," Bal said.
Over the years, with the popularity of high-end Indian designer wear, even the demand of the 'fakes' and replicas has gone up, as they are available at a fraction of the prices of the original creations.
Meanwhile, Bal, whose designs are available in India and abroad for exhorbitant prices, is also hopeful to make something for the country's middle-class. To this end, he has collaborated with labels like Biba, and e-commerce platforms Jabong and Amazon to give a touch of his magic to everyone.
"I have been selling clothes for Rs.5,000 and upwards at Biba; I have sold clothes for Rs.4,000 upwards on Jabong. We have a full collection which will start from Rs.3,000 up at Amazon. That is not 'Rohit Bal' label, it's 'Balance', a sub brand. So, if anyone really wants to wear my clothes, can afford to but it from any of these places," said the designer, known for his signature peacock and lotus motifs.
Signing off on a very positive note, the designer said that if something is of high amount or value, it should be a driving force for people to work towards it.
Bal said: "I think something that is worth a certain amount, money, value or perceived value, become aspirational to work harder and to try and achieve them and to own that. I am working very hard to buy myself a beautiful car, so I think it's a driving force."
(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)