Lifestyle Magazine

Design Theft and Your Wedding – Why It’s Really Not on

By Claire

Hello lovely read­ers! Recently I’ve been get­ting a lot of requests along the lines of “I’ve found my dream dress but it’s way out of my budget…could you make me one sim­i­lar?”. I under­stand that wed­dings are really (some­times stu­pidly) expen­sive and every cou­ple should look at ways they can make sav­ings, but I have to tell you this is not the way to do it. There are a num­ber of rea­sons why.

It is against the law

I can’t really explain it any bet­ter than that state­ment there. Every designer who designs a gown has copy­right pro­tec­tion on that design. I have copy­right pro­tec­tion on my designs, if some­one copies my design I have every right to sue them and vice versa. Sure copy­right law is a very murky area, but would you really want to risk it? I wouldn’t, and I hope that most rep­utable dress design­ers out there wouldn’t either.

Cheaper, really??

The sec­ond point to con­sider is that gowns are usu­ally priced what they are for a rea­son. If you come to me with a design of a dress that is heav­ily embroi­dered, beaded or uses unusual fab­rics, even if I wanted to, I prob­a­bly couldn’t make it for less than the orig­i­nal gown’s price. Add on to the fact that my gowns are made to mea­sure, which means I cre­ate a whole new pat­tern for each client (which is all done by me, in my stu­dio), it’s a just not do-able.

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Real designer?

Lastly, which is the point that is most per­sonal to me, is that I’m a designer. I don’t want to copy some­one else’s design, I want to cre­ate my own. Copy­ing some­one else’s design is lazy and unin­spired, and really it’s not actu­ally being a designer at all. I would be supremely dis­ap­pointed if I flicked through a mag­a­zine, or surfed a blog and found a bride wear­ing one of my designs that wasn’t made by me. It’s such a gut-wrenching feel­ing. Design­ers work hard to cre­ate beau­ti­ful, orig­i­nal, breath-taking designs. It’s not just a case of draw­ing a sketch, you have to work out which fab­rics will work with the struc­ture of the dress, (some­times this involves trial and error) what inter­nal struc­ture the dress will have. How to give max­i­mum sup­port with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the design, what fas­ten­ings to use, usabil­ity, and hun­dreds of other things. It’s a lot of work, and usu­ally along the way they get attached to the design. All my dresses are like my babies, they are my cre­ations. If you copy their design you are steal­ing their thunder.

So back to “I’ve found my dream dress but it’s out of my bud­get…”. There are a num­ber of other ways you could try to still get that dream dress.

Sam­ple sales

Almost all design­ers have them (I don’t, but bespoke doesn’t really work that way!), and don’t just look at your local bridal shop. If this is your dream dress (the one, amaz­ing, per­fect, the one you can’t live with­out etc) then con­sider the fact that you may need to travel a lit­tle fur­ther afield. If you can find it within your bud­get else­where isn’t it worth trav­el­ling a lit­tle further?

Sec­ond hand

I realize that most peo­ple won’t like this option, but really it’s not such a bad idea. Wed­ding dresses are worn once, just once! With a good dry clean you prob­a­bly won’t even know. Brides are lov­ing the buy vin­tage idea and really it’s exactly the same, the dress has been worn before, and you are even being green by recycling!


This last point really depends on who the dress is by and whether it is a cus­tom made design or mass man­u­fac­tured. If the dress is made espe­cially for you then it might be worth ask­ing the designer direct if there is any way to cut down on the cost. This could be by min­imis­ing embell­ish­ment details, short­en­ing trains or pos­si­bly using a cheaper fabric.

If none of the above work for you, it may be time to re-evaluate your dress needs/wants. Do you need that dress to make your wed­ding day? Isn’t it all meant to be about the love any­way? Is there some­thing sim­pler that would do just fine?

If the dress is some­thing you can’t live with­out, per­haps con­sider cut­ting the bud­get in other areas of your wed­ding, or con­sider cut­ting out some­thing alto­gether. It is your wed­ding day and ulti­mately it is up to how you choose to plan it, but please, don’t stomp on the designer in your rush to the altar.

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My huge thanks to Char­lotte from Char­lotte Bridal for shar­ing her thoughts — I com­pletely agree, and it’s great to see this argu­ment explained so well. I’d love to hear your sto­ries and thoughts about copy­right in our indus­try as well: has design theft affected you?
Char­lotte Gar­ratt is the owner and designer at Char­lotte Bridal. Offer­ing a start-to-finish per­son­alised ser­vice for brides, she cre­ates one of a kind gowns for inspired brides.

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