How Can We Build An Industry When Hell-Bent On Destroying Each Other – Gavin Replies To CopyCat laims

by Nana Tamakloe
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UK designer Han Chong’s dress known as the Liliana on the left and Designer Gavin Rajah’s dress on the tight. Picture: AFI

UK designer Han Chong’s dress on the left and Designer Gavin Rajah’s dress on the tight. Picture: AFI

Three days ago we published a story regarding the Gavin Rajah’s (Skirt and top) dress allegedly being a copy of a very similar looking (maxi) dress by Han Chong as seen above. However, the copycat claims against Gavin Rajah seems to go much deeper than we think stemming from feud the designer had with a former event organizer which is explained in the last 3 paragraphs. But before that let’s clarify the reality with the dress.

Yesterday we took the opportunity to contact the PR team of Gavin Rajah who refused to comment on the scenario based on the fact they had made a statement about the issue publicly on Elle.co.za and refuse to revitalize it or pay any attention to it.

However, they did inform us that all their designs and deliveries were executed prior to the new year hence why they already have clients seen in the said dress ahead of any runways shows that displayed similar outfits. And they were more than willing to send us evidence of this such as the picture below.

Dress By Gavin Rajah

Dress By Gavin Rajah taken last year

So that partially cleared part of the air for us, although there is also a picture of Han Chong’s dress from November 2014 as well worn by Reese Witherspoon. So if there is evidence of an earlier display of Gavin’s outfit, then there isn’t a real cut throat argument about who originated the dress first unless you are talking about who put it on the runway first. Which brings up the question why is press in South Africa at the designer’s throat. A bit of snooping around for this previous public statement via google led us to the explanation on elle.co.za published sometime last year…..

Gavin Rajah – “Perhaps I should explain why I think this happened. Last year I was asked by my accuser to be part of a fashion show in Durban. It irked me that established and well-known designers were not part of the line-up. Most notably, one of South Africa’s best designers, Gideon, was not invited to show. On speaking to Gideon I came to hear of the rather autocratic selection process and the nepotism that lay behind the show. So I wore a T-shirt at my showing with the slogan, ‘Why isn’t Gideon showing?’ I have since learned, to my cost, that hell hath no fury like a Durban fashionista scorned – whence comes, I believe, the motivation to try to shame me.” Full interview can be seen at elle.co.za.

Gavin walks out with controversial t shirt. Picture by SDR

Gavin walks out with controversial t shirt. Picture by SDR

We covered this controversial act last year in August 2013, which can be seen here. The bottom line is, it seems this copycat outcry and press alert may have deeper sentiments to it. The designers who he allegedly copied have not muttered a word of such claims, nor has the press from their countries done so. Could it be the other way round? We would never know.

Designers have always mimicked designer, or been inspired, or had coincidental similarities, however, the outcry from South African press regarding Gavin’s dress could be something out of our jurisdiction. In fact, in my few years of fashion journalism for Africa, I have witnessed more international designers duplicate the work of other designers.

Until the designers themselves chose to speak out regarding the scenarios, the question of the matter really only boil down to, who created it best for you, and technically who showcased it first. This is a dilema most talents around the world face, hence why PR and promotion is a vital issue in the industry. With that said enjoy Another extract of the elle.co.za interview.

“Don’t get me wrong: I understand the sniping and backbiting that characterises the fashion industry the world over – I did call a previous collection #itsadirtybusiness, after all. But what I don’t understand is how we can all be talking of building an industry when we are so hell-bent on destroying each other. Where is the support that we should be showing each other? How is it that we have come to this? Where is the love? I think we deserve better… We owe it to ourselves to be better human beings.”

To see the full interview, click here.

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