Friday, April 18, 2008
"Is It Still Fashion Design If You Use a Butterick Pattern?"
In short, no it's not. It's copying, and it's a little bit illegal, I'm sure. Fair enough, I know a few 'designers' guilty of this, but that doesn't make it design. It's product development at best, but even that can have an inherent integrity to it; using a bought pattern has none if you're in business. Copying is rife in Australia (remember that stupid copyright case over two unoriginal dresses by Lili and Review?), and not just at mass market level. But just because others do it doesn't mean you have to.
Using a bought pattern poses some more serious problems for a business than just a loss of integrity and potential legal implications. Commercial patterns, aimed at home sewers, usually have so much wrong with them in terms of construction and fit that I just wouldn't bother. And in the case of vintage patterns, bodies now are quite different to 30-40 years ago (we're fatter and our proportions are different, too).
On a more fundamental level, coming up with a sketch (whether your own or from the envelope of a bought pattern) and merely choosing a fabric for it is not exactly design, either. Or it's what I call 'colouring book design', and you don't need a design education to be able to do it - it's what any home sewer does. The people behind AFV (of St Louis; check out that classic MySpace photo of Ashley in the friends section - I've saved it for a friend who is building a catalogue of silly MySpace photos but that's another story...) might not be fashion designers but let's hope they are clever at business. And let's hope they have a competent patternmaker adapting that vintage pattern to contemporary manufacture and contemporary bodies. Because if they don't, the company will end up in this category. (I was actually looking to see if Kathleen Fasanella had a post, 'How to Go Broke Quickly', as in the book. She may well do, I only looked for about thirty seconds.)
I found the story at Fashion Indie (and disagree with the author); it's also where I got the image of the Butterick pattern. Bit of press fluff on the label here. And some images, though I couldn't work out which is meant to be the offending piece (there was some odd boobage going on with one dress but I doubt that related to the Butterick pattern).
Now there's half an hour I'll never get back.