Now here's the thing, Fashion may be dictated by the season's trends whether they be local or international, but there is no excuse for stealing another designer's work and calling it your 'interpretation' of the trend. Especially not when any person who compares the two can see your blatant disregard for creative intellectual property.
Most of my readers and followers are aware of my former client Rina Chunga who is the mastermind behind Ri.Ch by Rina Chunga. Her signature direction for ready to wear is vibrant prints, unconventional materials and luxe sportswear, and her designs are set apart from the average Afrocentric Print Designer by the workmanship and contemporary crafting of her pieces.
So this girl, who goes by the Instagram handle of @stylealert_thuli has been jumping on a few of Rina's designs and replicating them for a while (Please Note: she is not referencing ideas or trends, you can see in the comparisons below that she is blatantly copying) but the real shocker was when she replicated an entire Ri.Ch by Rina ensemble, posted it on Instagram and acted like nothing was wrong.
Now this is Rina's Tulle Skirt which she'd been making since last year, she wasn't too upset about this because she regarded it as quite a broad trend that was everywhere.
This is @stylealert_thuli 's tulle skirt posted on the 17th of October:
This is Rina's Bandana Print Bustier which we showcased around May this year and her Leather Pencil Skirt from June:
This is @stylealer_thuli 's post on the 19th of November, the plagiarism is obvious, as is the terrible workmanship.
Rina's fiance commented on it expressing his disapproval of her antics and she responded with this:
"U'll probably make more money instead of having those sleepless night[s], and thinking about how Style Alert SA operates!"
These are just two examples of what has been going on for quite a while now.
When did it become ok for designers to steal other designers entire concepts and run with it on the basis that bigger brands do the same thing? Where on earth is the integrity of our design industry that people like this can still be supported and funded?
I'm not writing this post purely because Rina is a good friend of mine, but because I love the SA fashion industry, and I want to see it grow into something that becomes a global commodity, something to uplift us as creatives, but I absolutely refuse to support an industry that supports trashy ethics like this and I'd like to know if other fashionistas and designers feel the same.
If the true fashion lovers in SA don't weed out the people in the shadows who are more concerned with money than the love of art in fashion, then we'll be looking at a very very sad future.
She says she doesn't call herself a designer, so can we call her a leech instead?