Michelle Obama’s Favorite Designers Seek Fashion Bailout

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Banks and auto companies aren't the only ones restless and clamoring for aid in this economy. Fashion designers are, too. For they are helpless in the face of major department-store sales and the proliferation of knockoffs peddled by fast-fashion chains. But this week they came together to cry "Enough!" and seek change.

A group of designers, including Philip Crangi, Justin Giunta, and Malia Mills, met with the Council of Fashion Designers of America a couple of days ago to draw up a "declaration of designers." It's basically a document meant to bring designers together to formally agree that department stores marking their merchandise down without their input isn't fair and won't be tolerated.

Yesterday, Michelle Obama's favorite designers went to Washington seeking to reintroduce an anti-piracy bill that would make knocking off designer clothes illegal. Currently you cannot copyright the design of a particular item, just an original print on an item, which is why fast-fashion chains like Forever 21 so easily get away with blatantly ripping off designer wares. Narciso Rodriguez has lobbied in the past to get the anti-piracy bill passed. It never went through because legislators worried it would allow lawsuits to overrun the industry and stifle creative freedom. The CFDA sent Rodriguez, Maria Cornejo, Jason Wu, and Thakoon Panichgul to lobby Congress this time, because they "are celebrities in Washington," according to CFDA executive director Steven Kolb. "People are going to be lining up with their digital cameras to photograph them." And no one is better at getting things done in Washington — or anywhere for that matter — than celebrities. Now, if they could only enlist First Dog Bo to stand before the committee with them, everyone would really pay attention.

A Little Help From My Fashionistas [NYT]