Plagiarism charges

An Indian designer has accused global fashion house Christian Dior of copying its print

People Tree founders have alleged that the print on a dress worn by Sonam Kapoor on the cover of Elle India is uncannily similar to one of their creations.

An Indian design studio has accused Christian Dior of plagarising one of its block prints.

People Tree, a New Delhi studio and store, has alleged that a yoga print featured on a red cotton dress designed by the French luxury giant – and worn by Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor on the cover of the January issue of Elle India magazine – is very similar to one they created years ago. The collective of artists and designers was co-founded in 1990 by graphic designer Orijit Sen and his wife Gurpreet Sidhu, and sells handcrafted cotton clothing as well as jewellery and accessories made using natural and biodegradable material.

In a Facebook post on January 23, Sen shared photographs of the original design and the wood block used to create it:

And here’s Sonam Kapoor’s Dior-designed dress on the Elle India cover.

The dress was part of Dior’s Cruise 2018 collection, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri. It was launched last year with a runway show in Calabasas, California, attended by stars such as Rihanna, Brie Larson, and the Indian actress Freida Pinto.

Another look from the Dior Cruise 2018 collection that features a print similar to People Tree’s design.

Another look from the Dior Cruise 2018 collection that features a print similar to People Tree’s design. Photo credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Another look from the Dior Cruise 2018 collection that features a print similar to People Tree’s design. Photo credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

People Tree is now consulting a lawyer.

Sidhu, meanwhile, told Quartz that their original design has been produced for over 15 years with the help of Rajasthani block printers who struggle to maintain a sustainable livelihood. People Tree produces only between 100 and 200 yoga-print pieces every year, selling them for around Rs 1,500 ($23.6) each, which is certainly much less than what Dior is likely to charge for its version.

“The main part of why People Tree exists is to give voice to creativity within India,” Sidhu said, adding that while copying happens all the time, Dior’s act is particularly offensive.

Western fast-fashion chains such as Zara have routinely been called out for plagiarising designs, often from independent artists.

But even in India, the fashion industry is no stranger to such rows. Last year, designers Rohit Bal and Nida Mahmood took to Facebook to criticise boutiques and large lifestyle retail chains that reportedly copied their designs. While Mahmood did take legal action to stop an unnamed firm from selling versions of her dresses, she explained that it was a long-drawn and frustrating process.

People Tree has found support from many quarters. This includes the Instagram handle Diet Prada, founded by two American fashion industry insiders who are known for calling out copy-cats.

Quartz has written to Christian Dior for comments and will update this post if the company responds.

This article first appeared on Quartz.

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