On Friday, Proenza Schouler co-designer Lazaro Hernandez spoke before Congress to advance a bill that could help guard designers against knockoffs. Titled the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, the bill aims to enforce stronger copyrights and discourage "deliberate copies that are substantially identical to the protected designs." Hernandez made a number of points in his argument, WWD reports:
“The fashion industry is already a tough business and it is getting tougher because of piracy,” Hernandez told lawmakers.
He said it takes tens of thousands of dollars to start a business and even more to sustain it. Proenza Schouler produces four collections a year at a cost of about $3.8 million, Hernandez said. The typical cost of a fashion show runs about $320,000.
“Our designs are born in our imagination. We create something from nothing at all,” Hernandez said. “By far the majority of apparel is based on garments already in the public domain. Nothing about the proposed legislation will change that. Nobody will ever be able to claim ownership of the T-shirt or pencil skirt. This bill is intended to protect only those designs that are truly original.”
Proenza Schouler has previously accused Target (ironically, a former collaborative partner of theirs) of knocking off their PS1 bag, but never took legal action.
No decision was reached on the bill, which will be debated further. Some lawmakers argued that the bill would open the door to frivolous lawsuits, while others believe that knockoffs are part of a healthy capitalist economy and help drive the fashion cycle forward. Both are interesting points, but certainly unpopular with wealthy lobbying powers like the CFDA.