Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Indian Designer Accuses International Brand Dior of Plagiarism

The outfit in the midst of controversy

Indian designer brand People Tree has accused international fashion brand Dior of “blatant plagiarism” over a printed outfit worn by Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor that was featured on a magazine cover.

“I’d like to set an example here — so these mega brands with mega budgets think twice before plagiarizing the work of small independent creators with impunity. It happens all the time. It must be halted!,” Indian graphic artist and designer Orijit Sen, who co-founded People Tree with his wife Gurpreet Sidhu, wrote on Facebook on Jan. 22 after the January issue of Elle magazine featured Sonam Kapoor wearing the design.

Sen says he created the design 18 years ago for People Tree, Firstpost reported. “We started People Tree in 1990. From the mid-90s, we have been working with a small community of natural dye and block printing artisans in a village called Kaladera in Rajasthan,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s been over 20 years since we’ve been working with them, and in the process, we have created a wide range of original block print designs which we use to make t-shirts and fabrics. This is just one of the many designs we have created.”

“It’s one of our classics, which has sustained itself because of its popularity. It’s not just a question of inspiration. They [Dior] have also copied the color combination. It’s a total rip off. We are in talks with a lawyer to see what our legal options are,” Sidhu told Mid-Day.

Sen further said: “The elements are copy-pasted. There’s a difference in the processes involved; Dior has probably used a screen print or digital print, basically some mechanical process. Our design is based on hand block printing; each unit is small because the blocks are small. This is why the pattern repeats itself in a particular way. Dior’s printing process has allowed them to create a larger pattern. They have also made minor modifications.”

Gurpreet Sidhu and Pakhi Sen have uploaded pictures of the handmade block print of one of the garments in their store.

Pakhi, in one of the pictures, claims that the handmade block print was created many years ago at People Tree. She shares the blocks they have been using at the store for printing in the comments’ section, The Indian Express reported. Pakhi’s mother works at the store.

Photographer Dayanita Singh came to defense of People Tree while Raw Mango called the whole incident “unfortunate.”

“The solution is to try to encourage local talent, to give due credit and respect. People Tree works on a tinier scale, but every artisan and every craft group’s name is highlighted in all of our stores. Their labels are not removed and we don’t find it a problem to share credit when someone else has created a product. You cannot obliterate the producer at any level,” Sen told Firstpost.

People Tree works with Bindaas Collective for natural dyes, and its garments are hand block-printed in Kaladera village of Rajasthan. Sen is also the artist behind the cult design, “The Disappearing Tiger,” that was translated onto a hand block-printed T-shirt a decade ago and made it to the coveted The Fabric of India exhibition at London’s V&A Museum in 2015, Mid-Day reported.