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Issey Miyake's dupes and the sacredness of fashion

How far can our relationship with what we wear go?

Issey Miyake's dupes and the sacredness of fashion How far can our relationship with what we wear go?

When we talk about dupe in the fashion world, very often we do so by referring to replicas of those items related to the trend of the moment. In the most classic of fast-fashion mechanisms, once the item makes its appearance on the catwalk the style department of Zara on duty is already ready to replicate it as quickly as possible to ride its virality and success. But what happens when the center of plagiarism is an iconic object in fashion history? Recently, a good portion of what is called FashionTok, i.e., the TikTok fashion community, has expressed all its discontent in front of Uniqlo pants that take in all respects the design of the much more famous Homme Plissé pants by Issey Miyake.

Available in four different colors, those offered for sale by Uniqlo are just the latest in a long line of dupes of the Japanese designer's pants, which before today has seen his work already "paid homage" by Zara and Cos, to name a few. Contrary to what usually happens, however, when the viral dress dupe of the day is met with a mixture of resignation and disinterest, this umpteenth plagiarism of Miyake's work has not left the fashion enthusiasts who populate TikTok indifferent.

@stylebykvn oh issey u so fine, u so fine u blow my mind @uniqlousa #uniqlo #uniqlopants #uniqlopleatedstraightpants #pleats #pleatedpants #isseymiyake #isseymiyakepants #fashiontips #fashionhacks #fashion #fashiontech #style #bestdressed #mensfashion #mensstyle #fyp #fypシ #foryou #xyzbca It's A Wrap - Sped Up - Mariah Carey

The reason is quickly explained and is to be found in the historical importance of Homme Plissé garments, their sacredness not only for those who place their love for the Japanese designer's work in the folds of his clothes but also for those who recognize its importance. In a way, it's as if fast-fashion chains started selling dupes of Margiela's Tabi or Raf Simons' Nebraska crewneck. As tiktoker @stevenhle pointed out, pointing the finger at those who buy replicas of these garments is not to be elitist, but to point out the very nonsense of buying a replica of an object so closely linked to its designer and its history.

For a long time, in what increasingly seems to be a struggle between good and evil, so-called investment pieces have represented the counterpart of the dupe, the item one is willing to spend for because it symbolizes an eternal and valued fashion. Interviewed by Vogue Business, Aesop's chief customer officer Suzanne Santos said the brand recently acquired by L'Oreal has no intention of taking action against those who decide to replicate their products because there is simply no solution to the problem. «There are people who feel that an alternative brand is a viable option for them, and that’s the glory of choice and democracy,» Santos said.

But is it impossible to curb the dupe market? If in many cases the products are sold on sites devoid of any control such as TaoBao or often even Amazon, in others the thin line between plagiarism and mere inspiration allows fast-fashion chains to sell designs at low prices that are all too similar to those offered by the brands. But if in the case of Issey Miyake the choice to buy a replica might also come from a certain ignorance of the original product (in the sense that the person buying the dupe is unaware of the existence of the original design), in many others, imitation is the only outlet for a desire that arises and develops in all the nonsense represented by today's ubiquitous yet elusive fashion.

We recently talked about how the idea behind the collaboration between Mugler and H&M may represent a first step toward what would seem to be a decisive strategy to counteract the dupes and give everyone a chance to approach a fashion that is precluded too many today. The same can be said of other cases, such as Marni or JW Anderson with Uniqlo, successful examples of a compromise between high and low that risks, however, further unbalancing the delicate balance of fashion, turning fast-fashion chains, until yesterday the arch-enemy of any fashion purist, into the new ally. If the saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is true, the risk is to see the big luxury giants wash their hands of the gap between product and buyer, transforming the very concept of fashion's sacredness that has always animated its consumption into a kind of pagan ritual whose main mantra is "look but don't touch."