Time Inc. "Dress War." Time Magazine, 23 March 1936.
This newspaper article from the 1930s presents a more in depth view of the Fashion Originators' Guild of America. This article was written when retailers began noticing the guild was abusing its powers. This article gives examples of the guilds' abuse of power. The guild basically believed it had the power to decide which pieces of apparel were copies and which were not. If a retailer did not agree to remove whatever the guild instructed them to, the store would be "red-carded." In other words, the guild would inform all designers and manufacturers to boycott this retailer. So, Filene's Department store uses this abuse of power to accuse the guild of attempting to monopolize the fashion industry by blacklisting disobedient retailers and creating heavy penalities for anyone who broke the guild's rules. This particular battle between Filene's and the guild is the core of this newspaper article. However, the author takes the reader through the history of the guild and why it began in 1933. The guild began as a way to pick up the fashion industry during its low point in the Great Depression. The members of the guild agreed not to purchase anything known to be a copy of original designs by guild members. The members agreed to these terms for apparel in the higher priced range. This protection did indeed decrease business mortality and increase original design creation in the high end market. However, once the guild's power began to increase, they starting imposing these protection rules on lower priced apparel as well. The retailers were not happy with this power abuse since they could not compete with chains who were selling these lower priced pieces with no restrictions. In addition, customers buying clothing in this range do not care if their purchases are imitations. So, the guild was basically just abusing their power rather than creating rules to benefit the industry.
Although this article does not necessarily provide direct support for either side of the fashion copyright debate, it is an extremely important resource since it provides the history of a previous attempt at fashion design protection. Therefore, this article will provide a way for me to demonstrate why copyright laws should not be enacted in the present. Although current proposed laws will likely learn from the mistakes of the guilds, this article shows that even in the 1930s, only high end designers wanted protection. For the rest of the industry, copyright laws would cause more harm than good. This article is structured to show the many different and conflicting desires of the various players in the fashion industry. This makes any effective and lasting protection very difficult in this industry. Therefore, this article provides a historical example as support to why effective copyright laws for fashion are not only nearly impossible, but also somewhat harmful.