When Do Designer Dupes Become Plagiarism?

It has always been assumed that when fashion appears on the catwalks it will eventually appear on the high street in some variation and considerably cheaper. But, when do designer dupes become plagiarism?
I feel like within the last couple of years or so there has been a huge rise in the amount of designer dupes available. I don’t know whether this is because I am a lot more aware of the trends and high end brands than before or whether there genuinely are a lot more dupes.
The amount of fashion bloggers I follow is also increasing. From their blogs and Instagram accounts you get so much outfit inspiration featuring the must have designer pieces. You can’t miss the amount of accounts that featured the Gucci slogan tee or GG belt both of which sold out incredibly quickly. With the increase in demand came an increase in the number of dupes as we can’t all afford to splash the cash on Gucci.
Chanel Paris Dallas Boy Bag

When do dupes become plagiarism?

There are obviously advantages to high street dupes. They make getting the designer look accessible to a lot more people who love the style but can’t afford the price tag. They are a great way to try out a style to see if it suits you before you spend out. But, where do we draw the line? Are dupes acceptable if they take inspiration from designs but don’t outright copy. There is obviously a big difference between dupes and fakes (a fake is pretending to be the designer item) but that’s a whole other blog post!
Are people less bothered about wearing a designer dupe when the fashion house is worth millions? It is hard to feel guilty when the brand is on the same level as Gucci.

Plagiarism of independent designers

Does the the situation become slightly different when the designers being ripped off are up and coming independents. Back in July 2016 I’m sure you will all remember reading on Twitter about Zara (who appear to be repeat offenders) who were accused of ripping off an American designer called Tuesday Bassen. Zara created pin designs which featured hearts, strawberries, boots etc, that were identical to Bassen’s. From what I can see online, Zara appear to have copied half a dozen other independent designers last summer alone.
A more recent example is Charli Cohen, a British designer, who launched her ‘dressed to kale’ t-shirt back in 2015. This year her design was copied by Target who produced an almost identical item. Independent brands only exist because they are offering something different. If what they create is no longer original and can be purchased elsewhere for less then they won’t survive.
Where do we draw the line? Designer dupes do make me slightly uncomfortable. I generally only wear them if they have taken inspiration from the original article as opposed to looking completely identical. Is this enough? However, I would never wear a item from a store that had ripped off an independents design.
I can’t afford to keep buying designer (first world problems I know). When I am looking at buying something I often try a dupe first to see if I get the wear. Does it make it ok if I then purchase the original item? I would love to know what you think!


  1. Amy
    August 23, 2017 / 10:04 am

    I personally get a bit fed up of seeing really obvious dupes in shops. Originality would be better, but naturally designer stuff is going to set the trend and I think it’s ok for smaller places to be inspired and bring out reasonably priced alternatives.

    https://amyevans.co.uk – Amy

    • lifesacatwalk
      August 23, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      I hate direct copies but I don’t mind if a piece just takes inspiration.

  2. August 23, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    That’s a great idea! Buying the dupe first before investing in the designer bag!!

    I have too many designer bags on my wishlist.

    • lifesacatwalk
      August 23, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      I think it’s a great way to see if you get the use out of it before spending a lot of money.

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