What can fashion industry teach us about open innovation

Fashion: Sartorial Opiate or Shamanistic Magic?

Copyright law’s grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. At TEDxUSC 2010, she talks about what all creative industries can learn from fashion’s free culture.

Patents and copyright ?

Fashion world has trademark protection but no copyright protection and no patent protection to speak of. It means that anybody could copy garmet and sell it as their own design, says Johanna. There is a widespread “open creative” or more precise a culture o copying.

What is the work flow of the copying culture

One of the similarities of how open source software is developed and how fashion designers are inspired is that the way that inspiration for design comes from street. This where people mix and match their cloths and inspire the designers to create new fashion that, eventually will land again on streets. So it’s both a top-down and bottom-up kind of industry in the same way that open source software works in the same way. A project that is upstream, is being downloaded by developers all over the world, then it is hacked, innovated and then pushed back with its changes so that others can also benefit from the contributions.

This pattern is also seen on other industries like:

  • food industry (recipes)
  • Automobiles (sculptural design),
  • Furniture
  • Haircuts
  • Magic tricks
  • Tattoo artists
  • The smell of perfume

Gross Sales ?

These are the gross sales of goods for low I.P. industries (low copyright protection) where the fashion operates in a non-copyright protection environment and it thrives, verses other firms that even if they have laws,
they operate where it’s as if they don’t have any protection and they don’t know what to do

How to fix the problem ?

To fix the problem there needs to be an interdisciplinary team of people hashing this out trying to figure out:

What is the kind of ownership model in a digital world that it is going to lead to the most innovation.


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