For major designers, it's pretty much par for the course that fast fashion brands will "draw inspiration" from a successful collection and lift certain design elements for its own products — or worse, straight up knock it off. Some brands, like Alexander Wang and Diane Von Furstenberg, attempt to guard their designs from copycats through patent protection, to varying degrees of success.
Others, apparently, embrace the imitation as flattery and call it a day.
In a recent interview with The Independent, Balmain's Olivier Rousteing expressed a surprisingly -- dare we say, enthusiastic? -- attitude about high street retailers like Zara translating his designs for the masses:
"I love seeing a Zara window with my clothes mixed with Céline and Proenza [Schouler]! I think that's genius. It's even better than what I do! I love the styling, I love the story... I watch the windows always, and it's genius what they do today. They go fast, they have a great sense of styling and how to pick up what they have to pick up from designers. I'm really happy that Balmain is copied – when I did my Miami collection and we did the black and white checks, I knew they would be in Zara and H&M. But they did it in a clever way – they mixed a Céline shape with my Balmain print! Well done! I love that."
Now, we're assuming this wasn't said sarcastically, although that would be pretty awesome. And it's true: From an operations standpoint, the Zaras and H&Ms of the world (see also: Nasty Gal, Forever21) have an impressive infrastructure in place to take the best of Fashion Week and pump out similar, lower-priced versions in record time.
More interesting, however, is that Rousteing is essentially applauding fast fashion giants' creative teams for their mashup skills — they are the Girl Talks of the design world, and equally popular among college-aged girls.
Or perhaps Rousteing simply knows how challenging it is to fight these retailers with legal fire and is subscribing to that old philosophy about joining 'em rather than trying to beat 'em.
We want to know what you think: Is Rousteing being a pushover, or does he just have a creatively generous attitude?