Keepin' It Real!
City Council Member, Margaret Chin, is introducing a bill where buying knock-off merchandise will become a misdemeanor punishable with a $1,000 fine or a year in jail. Many people, I'm sure, will be disappointed with this news. Walk down Canal Street on any given weekend and you'll see people hiding "inconspicuously" in phone booths waiting for someone to hand them a plastic bag filled with a variety of purses and wallets to chose from. Out of town-ers always request that a trip be made to Chinatown so that they can load up on knock-off designer bags at reasonable prices. And yet, one may wonder- when traveling to foreign places such as Paris, Mexico or Japan, would these same tourists be interested in purchasing a knock-off designer bag? Probably not.
While Mrs. Chin is concerned about the impact of the gray market on New York City tax revenues, I'm concerned about the impact that this has on New York City's local designers and artists. By purchasing merchandise on Canal Street, what role are we playing in evolving creativity and design in our city? Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, Lily Pulitzer and others alike were all aspiring local designers at one point in time and wouldn't be where they are today if creativity wasn't embraced.
Working at a design agency we are constantly inspired by what is hot in the fashion and media world, but replicating someone else's work is a definite no no and highly frowned upon. If design agency's alike were to copy each others work, there would be no variety, no credibility. As designers, we are always pushing ourselves to think outside the box, to make something that is both beautiful and unique. Design is where it is today because of that. So let us inspire and highlight our city by supporting the local artists and designers. No one wants to be a phony.