Some people steal brides. Others steal bridal gown designs.
Counterfeit Chic has discussed this knockoff nuptial dilemma previously, along with the measures that bridal emporia employ to evade copyists. But really, banning photography and sketching? Not exactly a pirate-proof strategy in the era of camera phones and the internet. Now WWD reports that, without either intellectual property law protection or effective means of keeping design details secret from copyists, wedding dress designers are attempting to warn brides about the drawbacks of purchasing a knockoff. The Watters website, for example includes a "buyer beware" tab explaing the dangers of unauthorized dealers who may not deliver the goods.
Like brides themselves, bridal designers are particularly sensitive to being imitated. Trademarks and brand loyalty are likely to be even less effective in encouraging consumers to eschew copies than in the case of other garments, as wedding gowns are an infrequent purchase and specialty labels may be unfamiliar. Even La Liz has only had 8 opportunities to wear one -- and the rest of us can hope for what, 4 or 5 in a lifetime?* In addition, quality of construction may or may not be important to a bride, as most gowns are worn only once -- at least by their original purchaser. Weddings, moreover, are an expensive proposition, and a budget-conscious bride may be tempted to hunt for a less-expensive version of her dream dress. Add in vicious trade show competitors who surreptitiously offer bridal boutiques cheap knockoffs, potentially preventing brides-to-be from even seeing the originals, and the market substitution problem becomes even more serious. Especially since even a popular original wedding dress design is likely to have a limited run, as no bride likes to see her dress walking down every aisle in town.
I'm reminded of a particularly awkward experience as a wedding guest some years ago. At the reception, a fellow guest admired the (quite ordinary) dress. Instead of accepting the compliment, the rather unlovely bridezilla -- an identical twin whose sister was to be married a few months later --screeched into a tirade about how her sister had asked to borrow the dress and how ridiculous it would be to see such a similar repetition of her day. Having neither a twin nor a sister, perhaps I can't fully understand the depth of feeling involved. And since I was a guest not of the bride but of the groom, who was never to communicate with his female friends again, I don't know which sister ultimately prevailed. But I do have a sense that bridal clones are no laughing matter. For the bride or her designer.
*Note to my esteemed colleague and spouse: Just kidding. Probably.