London - It is said that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' but in the fashion industry there is a fine line between imitation and flat out copying someone else's design. Accusations of design plagiarism and theft are certainly nothing new in fashion, but Indian designer and graphic artist Orijit Sen, co-founder of sustainable fashion label People Tree, has made the global headlines after accusing luxury fashion house Dior of copying his design.
Sen, who says he first created his Yogi block print design of a man in several poses in 2000, was shocked when he saw Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor gracing the cover of Elle India January Issue in a Dior Resort '18 dress. The dress design, which features lotus flowers and a man in different yoga poses bears a striking resemblance to Sen's original design. The Indian designer has shared images of his design and textiles for People tree next to Dior's design on social media and is calling on the luxury fashion house to acknowledge it stole his work.
"It's so disheartening when a huge brand doesn't have respect for small businesses and artists that struggle their whole lives to sustain themselves through creativity," wrote Sen in a post. "It's such a shame that they are disrespectful enough to blatantly copy us." The designer also argues that despite Dior's "massive resources," they still chose to rip off the design from independent Indian designers, artists and craftspeople.
Dior has yet to respond to the accusations made by Sen as it remains unclear if Dior knowingly plagiarised the designer's work or not. Designers at Dior working under Maria Grazia Chiuri could have either been aware of the existing textile design and used it as a literal source of inspiration to create their own textile, or the textile could have been sourced pre-made from another supplier.
Since Sen has made his accusations publicly know a number of independent designers, brands and communities have shown their support. People Tree, which works with a collective of designers in India, is a small sustainable brand that blockprints its own textiles by hand, supporting local artisans. At the moment intellectual property laws remain minimal in India in comparison to other Western European countries. However, over the past year more and more discussions concerning intellectual property in the Indian fashion industry have emerged.