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December 21, 2010

Plagiarism mars Pakistan fashion industry


December 21, 2010

FASHION designing has the potential of becoming a leading industry in Pakistan if it is freed of the plague of plagiarism.
It is spreading due to the hypocritical attitude of big names in the industry that condemn plagiarism but refuse to take action when they can.
In addition to earning foreign exchange, this industry is already creating a large employment base for not just design experts but also skilled labour, which serves the lower classes as well. The need of developing a code of conduct to discourage plagiarism is the dire need of the hour as legal actions are too complicated to reap fast and encouraging results. Designer Brand Licensing should be conditioned with signing the code of conduct as a member, so that no one can sneak past honest designing practices.
These were the solutions proposed by guests at the ‘Jang Forum’ on the topic “How to Check Plagiarism in Fashion Industry”. The forum was hosted by eminent journalist Iftikhar Ahmed along with Promoter of Pakistani Designer Brands in USA, Sabeen Syed, who owns the Multi Label Fashion House Glitterati, Leading Designers Nickie and Nina, prominent jewellery designer, Kausar Humayun, Pakistan Fashion Design Council Operations Head Saad Akhtar Zaidi and Pakistan Institute of Fashion Designing faculty member, Agha Husnain Khan.
Opening the discussion, Sabeen Syed said that although plagiarism was an international phenomenon yet it was kept in a certain amount of check in most countries. But, the reason it flourishes in Pakistan is the absence of any code of conduct and the absence of will among the top-notch fashion designers to tackle this issue. They are always full of words to condemn this practice but when they are in a position to take action against it, they choose not to act, which encourages plagiarism in the Pakistani fashion scene, she added.
Sharing her experience regarding perception of Pakistani fashion in the US, Sabeen said that this silent agreement about

plagiarism by the Pakistani ranks defiles the image, Pakistani brand loyalty and discourages potential investment interest of Pakistani expatriates in the Pakistani fashion industry. Establishment of a code of conduct and ensuring its adherence through effective complaint system is imperative, she concluded.
Aliya Ali (Nickie) and Nabila Junaid (Nina) stressed the fact that perception of high-end fashion as just a pastime and way to spend money of the highly privileged class needed to be shunned as soon as possible and this sector needed to be recognised and supported as a potential national industry. Aliya Ali (Nickie) said that fighting plagiarism on legal grounds was very complicated and difficult therefore this matter could only be addressed on ethical grounds. Designers need to be more creative with their designs to discourage easy copying and all should agree and abide by a policy as an obligation.
Answering a question by host Iftikhar Ahmed, Nabila Junaid (Nina) rejected the allegation that fashion was destroying the moral fibre of society by promoting revealing outfits and said that all dresses came in both modest and revealing options and it was an individual’s choice rather than any pressure by the fashion industry.
Prominent jewellery designer, Kausar Humayun, said that absence of hallmarking of jewellery in Pakistan was the biggest hindrance in acceptance and flourishing of Pakistani designerís jewellery internationally. Consequently, by introducing hallmarking of jewellery in Pakistan, we can create awareness among jewellers, consumers and traders that will help to overcome the declining image of the Pakistani jewellery and credibility in the international market.
Pakistan Fashion Design Counsel (PFDC) Operations Head Saad Akhtar Zaidi said that lack of will of even the most renowned designers to come under a code of conduct was the reason behind little or no control on plagiarism. He said that out of hundreds of designers, only 58 had enrolled with the PFDC, which spoke for itself. He said that PFDC was making efforts to integrate better with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to formulate punishments for the offence of plagiarism. He stressed that designers need to be educated to get their designs patent and to seek the council’s help in this regard.
Pakistan Institute of Fashion Designing faculty member, Agha Husnain Khan, said that the designer fraternity needed to be trained in the field of Fashion Merchandising and Marketing to drive out plagiarism. The consumers too need to be educated in this regard and explained the true aspects of value added designer wear as legal prosecution on plagiarism remains an internationally controversial matter. Common corporate responsibility for the development of the fashion industry, which would automatically result in their own growth and this was the most effective way to fight the menace. He suggested that media could play a vital role in educating both the designers and the consumers in this regard.

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