“Lisa Marie Fernandez Claims Emily Ratajkowski Copied Two of Her Swimsuits” – Business of Fashion
Emily Ratajkowski, a model most commonly known for her social media following and appearance in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video, decided to monetize her assets by creating a swimwear line. After teasing the launch for weeks online, a collection of 6 swimsuits was released on November 16th ranging in price from $75 (for either a bikini bottom or top) to $160. The collection was cute, retro-inspired, and totally made for Instagram. I can already imagine all of the influencers posing in the suits now. The launch was not without controversy. Lisa Marie Fernandez, a buzzy swimwear designer whose line is carried in stores like Barneys and Saks, alleged that Ratajkowski copied two of her copyrighted designs and sent her a cease and desist letter. Fernandez’s side of the story can be read in more detail in the above linked BoF article.
It seems that Fernandez isn’t the only designer whose work has been copied for the launch of the Inamorata line, as the “Swami’s” suit in leopard print is a recreation of a late 80s Norma Kamali piece. Ratajkowski has posted photos of her “inspiration” on Instagram, but doesn’t seem to realize the implications of admitting that you completely copied someone. I also think that swimwear is a super saturated market and it is very difficult to create original styles nowadays given that virtually everything has been done already. However, Fernandez’s styles were very popular and she definitely made the styles her own and gained brand recognition in the fashion industry for them.
I will be curious to see how this case pans out and if there are any more lawsuits against the company. Copyright laws for clothing are very poor in the US, but they are stronger in Europe where designers have more chance of winning a case. In this case, I feel like the lawsuit was brought against Ratajkowski to gain publicity and alert people of the copying that has occurred instead of actually seeking a financial settlement. Ratajkowski will need to be careful going forward because the last thing that a fledgling business needs is to go bankrupt from lawsuits.
In the same way that Kylie Jenner smashed all odds and launched a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a little over a year, her sister Kim Kardashian launched one too. KKW Beauty was introduced in June 2017, beginning with just a contour kit comprising of double-ended cream contour sticks with brush and sponge applicators for blending. Since then, the product offering has expanded into more face and lip products, newly launched fragrances, and most recently a multi-purpose glitter-gloss. Instead of the traditional licensing deal that celebrities tend to stick to, branding products with their names but having no involvement with the actual manufacturing and development processes, both Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are highly involved in every step of the product’s life cycle, from ideation to market. What’s most notable about the two brands is how quickly they grew, something that most traditional brands cannot manage. In the six months that KKW Beauty has existed, it has done tens of millions of dollars in sales. The perfume launch alone made $10 million in one day. Both of these businesses have chosen to forego the traditional approach to advertising and marketing, using just the two founders’ own social media presence to promote the products and push the line. The Fashionista article talks about how other brands are trying to work out how to replicate the Kardashian/Jenner success, but I think that it cannot be done. You see, they have a loyal audience ready to spend their money on the products: their market already exists. KKW Beauty already has 1 million followers on Instagram, whereas Kylie Cosmetics has almost 15 million. For comparison, Anastasia Beverly Hills, a hugely successful cosmetics line that is around twenty years old, has 15.1 million followers, and their social media presence is considered gigantic for a cosmetics company. When a new brand launches they have to build up their following and gain fans and attention all by themselves; when a celebrity launches a brand, the following is already there. That’s why I think trying to replicate their success is a waste of time, because they are playing a different sport than most brands. The Fashionista interview was actually interesting. Normally I don’t like reading about Kim Kardashian but in recent months I have began to admire her business acumen. She is so skilled at turning anything into gold. It’s fascinating to watch and I am so curious to see how the Kim and Kylie competition heats up. Whose line will be bigger in the end? Stay tuned to see.