Apparel Industry Definitions: Copying, Knocking-off, Counterfeiting
Quesenberry, Peggy Phillips
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Ideas for ways to use textiles and other materials as body coverings, or as a form of apparel decoration, as well as protection, continued to evolve throughout history. More complex ideas and outcomes developed with the advent of weaving, and rectangular shapes were draped in folds, tied, or wrapped around the body. An accepted practice in the apparel industry is seeking inspiration for ideas from a variety of people, places, and things. This practice of seeking inspiration from the environment leads to the question of whether copying is inherent within the apparel industry. History of costume research and study indicate that it is generally accepted that people wear differing apparel for each season of the year, with some repeat, or copying, in the same season in subsequent years. The terms counterfeiting, knocking-off, and copying are often used interchangeably, but further exploration of the terms show they are not the same. Counterfeiting has become, and remains a hot topic in the apparel industry, particularly in product development. Some designers have begun to challenge and demand their work be protected in some manner such as copyrights, trademarks, or patents. Questions and concerns abound among product developers. This study was exploratory in nature, seeking a definition, and identifying a specific point in the product development process, when a certain activity (i.e., copying) is more likely to be performed. Therefore, qualitative methods were used to achieve the objectives of the research. This research took a cross-sectional approach within a qualitative design study when selecting the participants. The cross-sections for the participants of this study were those participants in positions of direct influence on apparel product development. Analyzing the perceptions of the participants from the cross-sections in detail, inferences were made about the industry definition and method of copying, time of occurrence, and those most likely involved in decision making. The instrument for the study was an online survey with open-ended questions and fixed-response questions. Of the 20 participants, 11 accessed the survey with 10 choosing to participate. While some degree of similarity was observed in several of the definitions of copying, such as taking existing products to create new products, there was distinction when participants used phrases such as copying 'without changing anything' to 'copying the idea and concept.' Participants' definition of knocking-off can be summarized as a copy with variation in price point. Participants noted that the process of counterfeiting was an unauthorized or illegal copy of a product and often included copying labels or logos. Key reasons for copying products were reported as following trends and speed to market.
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