Saturday, February 24, 2007

Runway the Real Way, or TDBKR in Heaven

On my birthday trip to Vegas with Magen, I discovered London designer Ted Baker and realized that he is the guy for me. I came home from that trip with a "souvenir" from Ted's store in Caesar's Palace, courtesy of Magen's parents: a $325 silk day dress in navy blue and red in a pattern that I can only describe as "1970s Russian folk wallpaper." As far as I can tell, Ted Baker no longer makes or sells the red and navy version of the dress, which was the only color available in January and thus, I would guess, is the original version. Mr. Baker now offers the "Latifa" dress in a birch brown, onyx and silverly-blue "cloud" versions.

The onyx version of my fabulous Ted Baker dress.

I was out shopping today downtown and what is the first thing that I spy when I walk into ANGL in the Paseo Nuevo? Oh, that's right, a really cheap looking version of the exact dress pictured above. And what's behind it? Another knockoff of Ted Baker's dress in a light blue color that could be construed as "cloud," and one in a burnt orange and brown (birch brown?), and then, stuffed behind those, my dress. My red and navy Ted Baker dress.

The ANGL knockoff dresses are precisely the same pattern on the Ted Baker dresses, although there might be a slight difference in the crowns of the large flowers at the bottom of the dress. They are the same cut. There are really only two differences between the Ted Baker dress and the ANGL knockoff that would be noticeable to someone who doesn't really notice much about fashion.

The first of these differences is obvious: the ANGL dresses aren't silk. Everything from the sheen of the fabric to the way that the dresses were presented on the racks (wrinkled) yells "cheap imitation poly-blend." (My god, couldn't someone have at least purchased a steamer so that the clothing will look nicer on the rack, not like it just came out of a box that was on a tramp steamer from China?) The other difference will be more noticeable to the wearer: there's no pretty soft lining inside to preserve the quality of the outer fabric, in part because the outer fabric is already not of quality.

Now, I'm all about affordable clothing. I'm fucking lucky that I have a Ted Baker original, and I only have it because of Magen. I'm all about spending money on things that look more expensive than they are because ultimately, the only thing that matters about the quality of clothing is that they're sewn properly so that they're durable and fit well, that they fit well on you and that they look expensive.

My problem with the ANGL knockoffs is that they, presentation-wise, don't look expensive. And yet, they are. ANGL is charging $59.99 for a wrinkled poly-blend of a designer silk dress. Granted, $60 is not $325, but I should never, ever pay $60 for polyester blends. I can get a 100% silk blouse by INC at Macy's for only $70. INC is not Ted Baker, and I wager that if INC were doing a knockoff of my Ted Baker dress, they'd be charging about $100-$120 for it and using real silk and it would be a fucking steal. That's about the right price for that kind of quality of fabric. I only paid $325 for my dress because its Ted Baker.

But $60 for polyester? That's certainly cheap, but not cheap enough for the diminished quality of the dress. A polyester dress should be at least half that price. Actually, a polyester dress just simply shouldn't be.

In fashion magazines, there's always a feature called "Runway the Real Way" in which the magazine's editors take pictures from recent designer's hot hot hot runway shows and send their stylists and buyers out to find more affordable versions of the catwalk fashions. The idea is that you, too, can look like a runway model for about 1/5 of the price of the designer brand.

The difference between the things you see in "Runway the Real Way" segments and the Ted Baker knockoffs at ANGL comes down to quality and integrity. No editor who wanted to keep her job would ever suggest that polyester could substitute for silk. She might go out and find a lower-priced silk dress in a similar style, but never a polyester one--her magazine, after all, is supposed to uphold a standard of quality dressing. Furthermore, and this is the thing that really bugs me about the ANGL knockoffs, these dresses aren't simply imitations of Ted Baker's dress (say, if it were the same pattern, but cut completely differently, or the same cut but with a different pattern), these dresses are copies of Ted Baker's dress. You don't steal someone else's designs. You just don't. Just like you don't plagiarize the works of Megan McCafferty and call them original, Opal Mehta. It's as though the "designer" who created these knockoffs just found Ted Baker's sketches in a trash can and erased Ted Baker's name from them. A "designer" who steals other people's designers is not a "designer" at all, and that's a sort of stylistic integrity that shouldn't be compromised.

Naturally, as soon as I saw these dresses, I called Magen from the store and told her all about them. Her response was just to remind me that I have in my possession a dress that someone actually wants to make knockoffs of--and that's pretty cool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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