Entertainment Style Why Zara’s ‘racist’ skirt is part of a bigger problem

Why Zara’s ‘racist’ skirt is part of a bigger problem

fast fashion copies
Even Miranda Kerr's Qantas uniform has been copied. Photo: Getty
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The whiplash speed of the fashion cycle and our seemingly insatiable need to consume have numerous drawbacks – take into account the amount of clothing that is ending up in landfill, and the dangerous environmental impact of all this production, transportation and waste.

In this world of fast-fashion and fast turnaround, brazen copies of designer collections and large swathes of cultural appropriation are par for the course as stores race to find more and more fashion to re-stock shelves and e-commerce websites daily.

In a near-perfect circle of irony, it was discovered last week that fast-fashion chain Zara was selling a women’s “check skirt” for £69.99 ($125) that, to all intents and purposes, looked identical to a “lungi”, the $3 sarong/skirt worn commonly by men across large parts of India and Asia, and most probably by workers who are involved in the process of making the said “check skirt” in the first place.

zara check skirt mocked for being like a lungi
The Zara skirt selling for $125. Photo: Supplied/Zara

Finding inspiration, or in other words, stealing other people’s cultural techniques and traditions and re-purposing them without credit to the source, is rife in the industry, from Zara to Louis Vuitton.

The wonderful blog and Instagram account, Diet Prada, operates at a near forensic level, discovering and outing fashion’s worst copycats, and surprisingly, it’s not just chainstores stealing from high-end designers.

Everyone is ripping off everyone. One country’s national costume is a luxury fashion house’s new motif for autumn. One designer’s pin board of greatest hits is another’s new spring-summer collection.

How do you even keep up? I bought a blouse recently at a High Street store because I liked the floral print.

“Did you know that’s an exact copy of a Gucci blouse?” my fashion editor friend said when she spotted it on me.

I honestly had no idea, how can you when Gucci seemingly releases about 87 new looks every 10 minutes. But I hate knock offs, so it had to be retired, which is a stupid waste of money.

Celeb exposure can be game-changing for small brands, but the downside (given your clothes land on the right girls) is that they make you extremely vulnerable to knockoffs.  A favorite of Kendall and Bella, @daisydaisy.tv is another indie label whose designs/aesthetic have been copied by the shameless sisters behind @tigermist and @i.am.gia.thelabel .  Made locally in Sydney, every Daisy collection is designed, styled, and shot by a wife/husband duo themselves.  And…as if it wasn't enough to downgrade their creations into a cheap, pervasive import business, they've also been known to poach their loyal instagram following by seeding those very knockoffs. Support independent brands when you can, Dieters! #daisydaisytv #daisydaisy #heavenlybodies #australia #dpaustralia #instathot #white #lace #copycat #knockoff #iamgia #tigermist #bellahadid #kendalljenner #nicolapeltz #petracollins #selenagomez #madeinsydney #ocexclusive #openingceremony #australiandesigner #sydney #husbandandwife #copycat #knockoff #dietprada

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It used to be relatively easy to spot a fake, but now there are fakes of fakes. There are $29 versions of $49 tops which are versions of a $1500 one.

Chinese fashion houses quickly copy dresses and tops that are photographed on high-profile celebrities and models, and next thing you know they are constantly targeting all your social media feeds. Zulily is my current nemesis.

One of my favourite rogue invaders was a fetching navy, pink and red “evening” dress inspired by a shot of Miranda Kerr, which was, in fact, her modelling at the unveiling of the new Qantas uniform.

There was also a baffling ’50s-style day dress emblazoned with Rudolph and the rest of the reindeers crossing the night sky, in either a bright-red or green-colour way.

Why the Internet decided I needed that is a mystery, but hey, at least it was original. I think. I better check the Gucci look-book.

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