There are two 'i's in 'imitate'.
First and foremost, how are you all doing? Second and fivemost, it has been a little while since I have been able to sit down and string a few words together. It is October. Again. Already. Time flies, Jems doesn’t. She is scared of flying. But, yes, October and particularly the 27th is a bit of an occasion for us. Our little bag-gig we have going on from our Eastend factory will be two years old. I will get around to blogging about that but today I want to write about something else.
About a week ago I was out, like out out, in London with a friend (no, not Jems or Kitty). This friend is someone I know from my days working on the high street. As an accessories’ designer. We were out and we were having some drinks. And we were talking about bags. He decided to show me an image that one of the high street stores had sent him. It was of a bag. And the instructions were to design something similar for their in-house range. The image was an INMIY bag.
This is nothing new in the industry, even though I have my views on the matter. There is pressure on high street designers, like buyers, to hit targets. This creates a wide variety of labels and ranges of, well, sameness. If something is selling, it will be copied. Fair enough, not much you can do about it. The problem is that these big boys are more front of mind than us littluns, so they will generally wipe up the market until there is nothing left for their "greed-filled bellies and consciences (if they had one) swamped in the sweat of little child-labourers" to lick up.
So instead of being shocked at my friend’s revelation – I wasn’t shocked because this kind of thing happens a lot more than you would think – I asked him why they had chosen an INMIY bag for him to ‘draw inspiration’ from. He was simply told that the concept was strong. And in that moment I really wasn’t bothered. You know why? Because when they do rip something off – these big boys are in for making a quick quid from the latest trend – they do it so badly. It has happened that a very big online label called us in for a meeting and to show our wares only to politely decline a collaboration and then launch their own stuff in PVC. They were the ones that approached us. It was for us to decline. No?
We started with the intention to create Italian leather goods in London that are affordable and may even inspire the owner via the slogans we choose. You see, we listed down what we stood for (manufacturing in the UK, affordable, quality materials, uniqueness) and what we wanted to do (produce here so we have complete control on every step of the process, find slogans that resonate with us and girls who think like us).
So, there is a little insight I just wanted to get off my chest. The high street labels a lot of the time are not trail-blazing but simply ‘finding their inspiration’ from fringe trends. By all means, let’s inspire each other but an INMIY is an INMIY because of what we stand for and for the reasons we chose to stay in London to make our stuff, that is something the high street won’t imitate because they can save a lot of moolah by manufacturing in Asia.
And, it is not only the high street. Do you remember Jeremy Scott’s A/W 2013? Jim Phillips certainly did.