Monday, August 13, 2012

The invisible designer

When you go to see a band nobody's heard of, they tell you who they are. They often also tell you that you can still find them on MySpace. This is so that if you like them you can look out for them in future, check out their other work, and maybe tell your friends. All good stuff. I suppose a band might think there was no point telling people who they were until they were famous and the name would mean something to people. They'd reveal their identities to industry insiders when they were trying to get signed, but they'd only advertise their gigs as 'rock music' or 'emocore' or whatever. That'd be bad for business though, and bands don't tend to behave this way. Of course.

Now, in the world of fashion, designers don't behave like bands. They reveal their identities at fashion shows, and famous designers will have their names written on the clothes or at least on the label, but mostly when you buy clothes they don't say who designed them. The label says the name of the shop, which you knew already, but it doesn't say who designed the garment. The garments don't have proper names either, come to that.

Now, we all know that it's hard for new bands to crack the market without big corporate backing, but I guess the anonymity thing must make it even harder for designers. And I don't see that this is good for anyone except established designers and their shareholders. I think it must be bad for up and coming designers, consumers, and maybe places like Primark as well.

So here's my idea: when someone designs a garment, write their name on the label. That way people can see who made the clothes they like, and the good designers' names can get about by word of mouth. You won't have to get a fancy contract with a fancy fashion house to get your name known; if your clothes are in shops, you're not anonymous. And once people start looking out for your name, it can be a marketing tool for the shops you work for, or for you if you want to work for a fancy fashion house or set up on your own.

It's been suggested to me that big designers don't want people knowing who really designs their clothes. If a bigshot designer has underlings designing their clothes for them, they wouldn't want to have to write 'Joe Bloggs for Vivienne Westwood' or what have you on the label. Well they should lump it. Passing off other people's designs as your own is plagiarism, and if it's tolerated in fashion then people are suffering for it.

This could be done on a voluntary shop-by shop basis, but I don't really see why it couldn't just be put into law. It wouldn't change the way the clothes looked, the public would benefit, and the only thing it'd stop people doing is taking credit for other people's work. If you don't want your name known, use a pseudonym. I guess the big designers would get annoyed about it, but it's hard to imagine why the government would be very afraid of them. I'm pretty sure this idea has no downside, unless I'm being naive and Primark has all its clothes designed by robots.