First Lady Michelle Obama appears to be stuck between a rock and a hard place with her fashion choices. For the Halloween party on Saturday, Obama was seen in a black, orange and bronze-striped dress. The dress, priced at $63 from the fast-fashion chain ASOS is actually a knock off of a Diane Von Furstenberg design that is prices at $498.
Saving Money, Not Headaches
While it’s admirable for First Lady Obama to save money in a tight economy, her choice does raise questions about intellectual property and designers’ rights.
The Fashion Fight
The fashion industry has long been fighting for copyright protection from fast-fashion retailers who are manufacturing knock-offs of this sort. Fashion designer Von Furstenberg, herself, has lobbied Capital Hill for protection of this sort. As she said to the Washington Post in June,
“I don’t know that fashion is art. It’s design. But it has value and we have to protect it. It’s intellectual property.”
Red, White and Blue Criticisms as Well
In addition to being chided for selecting a knock-off instead of the real thing, Obama has also been berated for selecting fashion choices made outside of the United States. During a recent state dinner with China, Obama chose an Alexander McGueen ensemble.
It does appear that Obama is in a tight spot. Should she wear only name-brand clothing, many would yell that she is spending too much money on fashion. Wearing knock-off brands, however, certainly doesn’t sit well with those who invest their time and energy creating innovative styles that they do not wish to have others copy.