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Thorstein Veblen, social philospher (who coined the term ‘Conspicuous Consumption’), believed that fashion cycles succeeded as they were a relief from the specific ugliness of the previous season. Cf. Oscar Wilde: “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to alter it every six months.”
On the other hand, law professors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman, suggest that the fashion cycle, or atl least the shrotness of it, is caused by copying — trends saturate the market quickly, ‘driving the fashion cognoscenti to search out newer looks.’
The Wall Street Journal, in its imprecisely titled “Can Fashion Be Copyrighted?”, p. B1 today, no free online version, discusses a proposal to grant fashion designs a three-year sui generis form of protection. Various designers, among them the knocked-off and the knockers-off, discuss copying. The article quotes Profs. Raustiala and Sprigman, as well as blog fave Susan Scafidi of Counterfeit Chic, who continues the discussion of the proposed legislation on her site.