Increased security - designers fight to protect their creations

Apple - Facebook - Tom Ford. Three companies, seemingly different in almost every way, with one important element in common: Secrecy.

The companies deal with a highly competitive market and enviable status as groundbreakers and icons by keeping everything under wraps until they're ready to broadcast their work to the world, in perfect form. Apple is known as a company that doesn't take customer feedback or create focus groups for a product before it's released. Facebook, in its early days, was both exclusive and secretive, making it highly sought after by anyone lucky enough to have a college email address.

Tom Ford SS2012 preview

Tom Ford, as he has done for three previous collections, showed his collection this year to a hand-selected audience at London Fashion Week. There were as many rules surrounding the show as a confidential CIA briefing: no phones, no photographers, no tweeting or facebooking, no cameras, period, and no post-show interviews or reviews.

Vogue alone had access to the images of the designer's 36-look collection, to whom he told "My focus is really old-fashioned… I want to do classic clothes." The collection did not receive a standing ovation, as his last three collections did, which may have led to the change-up he's doing for this February. Instead of a runway, Ford plans on hosting a series of 10 small presentations, in which he stands next to each look on a model and explains the elements. How this will be received in a wold where the runway and show says something about the collection just by how it's presented is unknown. Does this sort of presentation drain some of the sparkle and spectacle of a new collection? Only time will tell.
Forever21 is often under fire for obvious knockoffs
Forever21 is often under fire for obvious knockoffs

This decision reflects a much bigger and ever-present issue facing the fashion world; an issue that has always plagued the industry, and will continue to plague it for as long as fashion is in demand. So, always. The pressures of coming up with something fresh several times a year is daunting, and not every designer is an ever-flowing fountain of original thought and creativity. As even the best writers get writers block, even the best dancers feel burned out, designers can begin to feel drained and in need of a refresher. At the same time, there is an equal pressure to stay both trendsetting and trendy; keeping with the flow of the season while presenting something new and different. This leads to copy-cat designs, reverting back to old styles, and putting small twists on someone else's design.

Mary Katrantzou Spring 2011

Mary Katrantzou for TopShop - preview

Stores are already nearly , if not completely, sold out of designer's affordable collections like Versace for H&M or Missoni for Target, within the first few hours or days of stocking. The collections aren't anything new, just taking the designer's signature style like color, pattern and cut and mass producing them for a bigger audience. While these collections may be praised, they look just like what the designer had done in seasons past (even as far back as 1990). They don't have to create anything stunningly original, because they don't have to. Consumers want to buy something Versace just because it's Versace, not because it's something new that no one else will be wearing. These collections are praised more for their accessibility, and less for their originality.

Big name designers can find it tempting to steal ideas and designs from younger designers, who are less likely to have the same kind of exposure, and therefore diminishing the chances of them being held accountable. It's easy to point at something simply being a trend, but the smart consumer sees otherwise. Stores like Forever21 are constantly under fire from designers and critics for mass producing a near copy of original looks by independent designers. However, these copies attest to the demand for on-trend styles, especially by consumers who can't afford to drop a month's rent on a cocktail dress or shoes.  The circle is vicious, and there's blame pointed every which direction. Diane von Furstenberg, who has, herself, been caught of copying a lesser-known designer's work, helped lead the CFDA in supporting a site called The media took note of the hints of hypocrisy, and one National Post writer penned the following:

Let's remember that when she and other designers accuse chains like Forever 21 and Anthropologie for alleged garment plagiarism and talk about the intellectual property issue in general, copycatters are vilified as "pirates." Yet when a garment from DvF's own brand is found to be uncannily similar to another designer's, it's positioned as an accident, an honest mistake.

In order to continue a quest for originality and protection, designers like Ford have been backed into a closet with their designs, scared to let them see the light of day. But at what cost do they keep their secrets?