Burned by the lack of protection for fashion designs under U.S. law? Try slapping a giant logo on your creation (for trademark protection) or replacing solid color fabric with a print (copyrightable by the fabric designer).
Or, if your vision calls for elaborate draping and complicated construction -- and your customers have deep pockets -- stay one step ahead of the copyists with designs that are simply too difficult or too expensive to replicate on the cheap.
Of course, such technical sophistication doesn't come easy, especially when it comes time to put finely tuned figments of the design imagination into real life production. That's why designers call upon expert patternmakers like Nicolas Caito, featured in the September issue of Elle, to realize their visions. The article notes:
[W]hen Peter Som wanted to create a snail-like ripple in the center of a cocktail dress for fall, he, too, called upon Caito, this time to help grapple with the twisted seams. "I realized we had to bias-cut the fabric to get the shape of the wave that Peter had in his sketches," Caito says, pointing out that in today's age of cheap copycat couture, the designer's commitment to such artisanal detail is rare.
Luckily for designers who can afford Caito, patternmakers with his training and experience are also rare. Copyists aren't known to invest in technical expertise or design innovation -- leaving Som's creation safe, for now.
Despite the ubiquity of fast fashion, it's nice to know that there's still time for a "snail-like ripple."
P.S, To see the work of another emerging designer whose elegant techniques have been described as too sophisticated for mass market copyists -- though she's had some suspicious visitors -- go to Kelima K's website or visit her Nolita boutique.