Saturday, June 5, 2010

Il y a un petit probleme

Here is a cartoon tee recently released by Zara:


Here is the photo of Betty Autier that seems to have inspired it:


It's like playing spot the difference- except there are hardly any (I could only find a substitution of the slurpee cup logo for love hearts.) Betty wasn't approached by Zara for permission to draw from her photograph like this and in her own words, it's "rather unsettling, this resemblance!"

This stirs up the question of intellectual property and the internet which bloggers are implicated in both as they post their own work (photos, writing) and draw from the work of others to fill their blog. It's also an example of the infiltration of bloggers into the commercial fashion industry, and the commercial currency of their branded identity. What is extraordinary is that Zara didn't take the opportunity to cross-promote with Betty, whose blog is widely read (and really good! You should check it out. For English-only readers, it's in French and the translations aren't great, but they kind of add to it's general charm. And her images say more anyway, really.) Betty and her audience are the target customer for Zara, I should think- fashion-loving young women with disposable incomes and a ready platform to spread the word (Hello, Blogger.com!

It's interesting to contrast this little t-shirt scenario with another- the savvy step taken by Borders & Frontiers a few years ago when they recruited a number of high-profile style bloggers to design a t-shirt to be sold off their own blogs. Cue:

Hazel of Bonjour Girl

Queen Michelle of Kingdom of Style

Susie of Style Bubble

Tavi of Style Rookie

Danny Roberts of Igor and Andre

A lot of these tees have cropped up in outift posts all over the blogosphere, not only extending the readership of the bloggers involved but shining a torch on Borders and Frontiers everywhere they went! Genius idea. So, Zara- what on earth were you thinking?

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