Written & Illustrated By: Gabriela Della Corna
“Wait, hasn’t that been done already?”
(A.K.A. the kiss of death in the creative field.)
Maybe I’m being dramatic, but it sure can feel that way. As a graphic designer I am constantly pulling inspiration while desperately trying to avoid producing anything that could be a straight up imitation. It’s scary how fine that line is. But as creatives, we all walk down that path whether we’d like to admit it or not. Inspiration is all around us, and our subconscious is a powerful thing. What we might think is a totally original idea may truthfully only be a slight variation of something we saw on the street three years ago.
Are you getting anxiety just reading this? Yeah, me too.
Still, copying runs rampant in the creative world, whether intentional or not. We see it in music, pop culture, art, design, fashion, etc. And in the age of social media where we scroll past thousands of images at a mile per minute, it’s hard to judge whether an imitation was influenced by a fleeting glimpse or by slightly less innocent intentions.
Who’s to say who did it first?
Well, in the fashion world, @diet_prada is filling those shoes (pun most definitely intended).
Diet Prada, an Instagram account started in 2014, aims to serve up a fashion education and expose “ppl knocking each other off lol” according to their Insta bio.
Although the account started out anonymously, it has since been revealed that Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler are the critics behind the curtain. These two have been in the fashion industry in New York for over a decade and are putting their extensive knowledge of the runway to use. Liu and Schuyler eagerly offer up fashions’ biggest copycats on a platter to their ravenous 488K Instagram followers.
In their side by side photo comparisons, the “original” is on the left, with the imitation in question on the right. Posts range from meme-worthy content, to praise for well-done homages to historic designs, to frustration with fashion houses and their blatant disregard for stealing other designers’ work.
While the overall tone is usually light, you could be in the market for some serious damage control if you happen to be the unfortunate resident on the right in the more scathing posts. Diet Prada followers will faithfully attempt to defame the imitators if their actions are deemed egregious enough (see comments on PJ Mattan’s launch of his new furniture collection “Elephant” after being called out on Diet Prada’s Instagram story for copying Matter’s Slon Collection).
It quite seriously could be the kiss of death (to you or your brand) to be featured on Diet Prada.
Many say the accused deserve it. If allegations are proven true, I am 100% on the same page, especially when it comes to big corporations taking advantage of smaller/lesser known artists. Drake’s Scary Hours EP cover design controversy is the perfect example. The text application was ripped right from music artist RABIT’s tour poster, created by independent designer Collin Fletcher back in 2015. It’s cases like this that make me shake my head. Drake’s label clearly has enough money to pay the original designer. Sadly, somewhere along the lines someone tried to pass the artwork off as their own, simply because they thought no one would find out.
As a small designer myself, I dread the day that I scroll through Urban Outfitter’s website and find my illustration on a graphic tee without my prior knowledge, let alone my permission.
Can this epidemic be stopped in the first place?
Social media is proving to be an important step in holding brands accountable. The public platform forces brands to become more responsive to accusations (whether true or false), as compared to before when they could hide behind missed calls and lengthy paperwork since it was all out of the public eye.
Unfortunately, I don’t think copying will ever go away. But it’s exciting to see that someone is holding the big guys accountable. Because people are definitely taking notice. And that’s powerful in itself.
So make sure to check your references, give credit where it’s due, and stand up for yourself/others if you see someone trying to take what’s not theirs.
Thanks for keeping it real @diet_prada.
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