A while back, while sick, I posted a rant that was brought up by seeing someone I know claim someone else's sewing as their own. Now, that I'm not sick, I'd like to talk in a logical manner about what I was so upset about, as well as the legalities of it all.
First, moral obligations. I think we can all agree that if you go and by a landscape painting, add an extra bird, and change the artist name to your own, that's a pretty skezzy thing to do, right? Well, what about if you buy a print and alter it, just because it's not an original piece, doesn't mean that you have the right to add a bird and call it your own. As a seamstresss, I would be outraged if I ever sold a dress to someone, just to have them change the trim and go around telling people that they made the dress themselves. No, they didn't. I don't think the situation changes if a person goes and buys a mass-produced garment and does the same thing. However, there are people out there I see who buy thrifted clothing, completely cut it apart and make a new garment of these. For the most part, these seamstresses don't call it their own work, but call it "repurposed" or "recycled" or something like that; I appreciate that, as they are calling it what it is, and being honest. I also admire the heck out of a lot of their work.
But back to the issue. Original dress that set me off. It was a semi-massed produced dress; the initial person purchased it and added some trim, then told people she made it herself. No; you decorated it yourself. Call it was it is. Be honest. I'm all about encouraging budding seamstresses in the skill; but don't claim work you haven't done.
Now, legally speaking. Unfortunately, fashion doesn't have the same protection currently as some other art-forms do. There is much debate over whether fashion design can be copyrighted; ie; making "knock-offs" an infringement of these copyrights. That's not exactly what we are talking about here though. We also have copyright laws on pattern useage; patterns stay under copyright for a long (I think 75 years) time; we can't buy a pattern, make 200 copies of the item, and call it our own and sell it. The pattern you buy commercially is only to make yourself garments; non-profit, etc. Okay, we are getting a little closer to what we are talking about. Now, unless a dress is copyrighted, or the dress design, we aren't dealing with copyrights. So is this just a moral issue? Is there any law protecting seamstresses from having other people claim their work? Maybe this falls under plagiarism? A garment is definitely intellectual and creative property... but plagiarism isn't a crime; so I guess it goes back to the moral and ethical question of it all.