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        Sunday, October 14, 2007
        Where is the fashion police?

        A London celebrity designer, Matthew Williamson, gets his inspiration from several traditionally ethnic designs. Fair enough. No harm in nicking a bead hear and a print there. But is it ethical/legal/fair to copy a country's traditional dress and claim as if its your creation? Or is this going to be the next patent right fight Ethiopia is going to go through after Starbucks coffee?

        These unmistakably Ethiopian dresses are part of Matthew's Spring 2008 collection. Judging by the pictures, the entire collection is "ethnic" inspired. However these are the two only Ethiopian dresses which appear in their original design.

        Being inspired is one thing, but shamelessly copying something is outright theft. Sorry. On a more serious note, if this trend continues, would it have an impact on the livelihood of hundreds of Ethiopians whose livelihood depends on making the Abesha kemis?
        Handicraft is therefore considered to be one of the most important and widely spread occupations of most Ethiopians next to Agriculture. As part of the handicrafts heritage, Ethiopia has diverse traditional handloom products. This sub sector provides large-scale employment and is an important source of livelihood for a large number of people in urban and rural areas. Based on the data collected in Year 2002 by the Central Statistical Authority (CSA) on cottages and handicrafts, it was revealed that there were a total of 211,842 handloom/weaving textiles enterprises in the country in various forms of ownership though benefits accrued from this sub sector was much below than expected.
        It will be nice if Matthew uses his fashion-weight to introduce the work of Ethiopian weavers and use their original product thereby boosting their meager income. Now that will be fair trade! (Thanks Selam)

        Related links
        Clothing in Africa
        Ethiopian handloom products
        History of Ethiopian clothing by Richard Pankhurst

        Labels: , , ,

        posted by Fikirte @ 7:41 AM   Digg!
        8 Comments:
        • name<="c8886538020113282019" id="c8886538020113282019">

          At 3:22 AM, Anonymous yonas said…

          you are kidding, right? matthew makes no secret of the fact that these designs are based on traditional abesha kemis.

          we have hundreds of abesha kemis designs. matthew has simply added two more and is promoting it in a high-profile fashion show. good for him. and good for abesha designers who have better abesha kemis designs, and could benefit if they play their cards right here.

           
        • name<="c8570158257637766509" id="c8570158257637766509">

          At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Mimi said…

          What happened to the good old giving credit to those who deserve it and have worked their lifetime on it? This is not just a fashion theft, it's a culture-robbery. This is not just a Qemis to us habesha people, this is part of our identity. And we are very proud for our great-great-great grandfathers who have passed on to us such a beautiful traditional outfit. Matthew and his crew may see it an easy way of adding to their reputation and therefore making money. Is this what your “profession” thought you for ethics, Matthew? Stealing other’s identity and copying to be one of your original ideas? Shame on you! You are a shame to your profession and you will definitely pay for it!

           
        • name<="c2539135131734820431" id="c2539135131734820431">

          At 3:17 PM, Anonymous An ofended Ethiopian said…

          First of all, who do you think you are? saying Ethiopians needs to play their cards right. It is our own traditional cultural dress that has been around way before your parents were born! Second i dont think it is right to steal others image and put it across like your own and believe that you are going to get away with it.

          I wouldnt have mind if he used some designs and said that he was inspired by the Ethiopian cultural clothing.

          Finally, he has just opened a wide door for those Ethiopians who will take the opportunity to start selling these clothes in the western world and make money out of it.

           
        • name<="c2724265811809802202" id="c2724265811809802202">

          At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          Hey Matthew, You have done a great job!! I am an Ethiopian, & i must say you made me proud!! Do not listen to those comments ... they are trying to put you down. Guy's instead of criticizing his work ... be creative & show us what you can do & represent our country Ethiopia!! As i said ... Matthew, keep up the good work!! Well done!! Love Mekdes

           
        • name<="c4404039976118192924" id="c4404039976118192924">

          At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          matthew should give 50% for ethiopian charity!

          this is just a copy of ethiopian dresse. hellooo....where is the creativity?????

           
        • name<="c7740968343938434637" id="c7740968343938434637">

          At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          yonas and mekdes just tell me how the world will know those are ethiopian dresses??? the world will see matthew creativity not the poor ethiopian shemane....

          thx

           
        • name<="c5844459462017611831" id="c5844459462017611831">

          At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          lol its like he bought it in ethiopia and bring it for his show.

          men, tell the world that those dresses are created by ethiopian shemane not you. "BE HONEST"

           
        • name<="c7919902726823541181" id="c7919902726823541181">

          At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          Boy! These Ferenjis don't even look good in these traditional clothings, just to begin with. And second Mr williamson should atleast take his teft in to consideration and have the courage to put Ethiopian models in those dresses. And three, I say the shemanes,Dorzees should unite and form some kind of copy right so some body could help these poor tailors sue the crap out Mr Williamson.

           
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