In a surprising turn of events – New York & Company‘s newest drop in one of its co-created collections with Hollywood star Eva Mendes contains several pieces which bear an uncanny resemblance to Nigeria’s designer Lisa Folawiyo ‘s SS18 collection.
It has almost become commonplace for fast fashion brands and high end brands to clash on trademark and copyright issues; from Gucci and Adidas suing Forever21 to Christian Louboutin vs Dutch retailer Van Haren, it feels like there’s a new outcry every other day.
In fact, calling out culture has spawned its own mini industry , with Instagram accounts like Diet Prada showing just how prevalent the practice of ‘ripping off‘ is. And it cuts across all categories whether its luxury ready to wear, bridge and fast fashion. However it feels particularly insidious when a much bigger, global brand rips off a smaller brand with less access to markets.
So why does it keep happening?
Whilst it tends to cause a furore on social media, especially with celebrities who are allegedly repeat offenders like the Kardashian-Jenner clan, design protection is almost non existent for fashion designers especially in the US and the United Kingdom. Unsurprisingly, the European Union (France & Italy are home to some of the oldest and most recognised fashion brands in the world) has the strongest intellectual property protections with its European Designs Directive for industrial design rights for both registered and unregistered designs.
In other words, it’s incredibly hard to litigate.
Back to the matter at hand.
Lisa Folawiyo Studio’s SS18 ‘KWENU” collection was inspired by Igbo culture.
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It featured strong symbolism associated with the culture including the ‘Lion’s Head’ and was nicknamed the “Isi Agu” collection by fashion insiders like Noble Igwe.
The fresh drop features a seemingly identical print employed throughout the ‘Isi Agu’ collection in different colourways and in one case, the exact same.
The silhouettes and styling of the pieces also give us a strong sense of déjà vu .
Lisa Folawiyo Studios is well known for their original textiles however, it is unclear as to whether this particular print is proprietary or if it was licensed from a manufacturer.
So BellaStylistas, what do you think? Creative Coincidence or Inspiration?
BellaNaija Style reached out to Lisa Folawiyo’s team for comment, but did not receive a response by press time we will update you soon as soon as we get word .