Charlotte Garratt – owner and designer at Charlotte Bridal – sent me this guest blog post about copyright in wedding design and I knew it had to be on English Wedding Blog. Have you ever asked a wedding supplier, “I’ve seen this on another website: can you do one similar?” It’s not a good idea. Charlotte explains why – and she does it thoughtfully and eloquently.
Hello lovely readers! Recently I’ve been getting a lot of requests along the lines of “I’ve found my dream dress but it’s way out of my budget…could you make me one similar?”. I understand that weddings are really (sometimes stupidly) expensive and every couple should look at ways they can make savings, but I have to tell you this is not the way to do it. There are a number of reasons why.
It is against the law
I can’t really explain it any better than that statement there. Every designer who designs a gown has copyright protection on that design. I have copyright protection on my designs, if someone copies my design I have every right to sue them and vice versa. Sure copyright law is a very murky area, but would you really want to risk it? I wouldn’t, and I hope that most reputable dress designers out there wouldn’t either.
The second point to consider is that gowns are usually priced what they are for a reason. If you come to me with a design of a dress that is heavily embroidered, beaded or uses unusual fabrics, even if I wanted to, I probably couldn’t make it for less than the original gown’s price. Add on to the fact that my gowns are made to measure, which means I create a whole new pattern for each client (which is all done by me, in my studio), it’s a just not do-able.
Lastly, which is the point that is most personal to me, is that I’m a designer. I don’t want to copy someone else’s design, I want to create my own. Copying someone else’s design is lazy and uninspired, and really it’s not actually being a designer at all. I would be supremely disappointed if I flicked through a magazine, or surfed a blog and found a bride wearing one of my designs that wasn’t made by me. It’s such a gut-wrenching feeling. Designers work hard to create beautiful, original, breath-taking designs. It’s not just a case of drawing a sketch, you have to work out which fabrics will work with the structure of the dress, (sometimes this involves trial and error) what internal structure the dress will have. How to give maximum support without compromising on the design, what fastenings to use, usability, and hundreds of other things. It’s a lot of work, and usually along the way they get attached to the design. All my dresses are like my babies, they are my creations. If you copy their design you are stealing their thunder.
So back to “I’ve found my dream dress but it’s out of my budget…”. There are a number of other ways you could try to still get that dream dress.
Almost all designers have them (I don’t, but bespoke doesn’t really work that way!), and don’t just look at your local bridal shop. If this is your dream dress (the one, amazing, perfect, the one you can’t live without etc) then consider the fact that you may need to travel a little further afield. If you can find it within your budget elsewhere isn’t it worth travelling a little further?
I realise that most people won’t like this option, but really it’s not such a bad idea. Wedding dresses are worn once, just once! With a good dry clean you probably won’t even know. Brides are loving the buy vintage idea and really it’s exactly the same, the dress has been worn before, and you are even being green by recycling!
This last point really depends on who the dress is by and whether it is a custom made design or mass manufactured. If the dress is made especially for you then it might be worth asking the designer direct if there is any way to cut down on the cost. This could be by minimising embellishment details, shortening trains or possibly using a cheaper fabric.
If none of the above work for you, it may be time to re-evaluate your dress needs/wants. Do you need that dress to make your wedding day? Isn’t it all meant to be about the love anyway? Is there something simpler that would do just fine?
If the dress is something you can’t live without, perhaps consider cutting the budget in other areas of your wedding, or consider cutting out something altogether. It is your wedding day and ultimately it is up to how you choose to plan it, but please, don’t stomp on the designer in your rush to the altar.
My huge thanks to Charlotte from Charlotte Bridal for sharing her thoughts – I completely agree, and it’s great to see this argument explained so well. I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts about copyright in our industry as well: has design theft affected you?
Charlotte Garratt is the owner and designer at Charlotte Bridal. Offering a start-to-finish personalised service for brides, she creates one of a kind gowns for inspired brides.