Copy Rights Or Copy Wrongs

Why LVMH should rethink their position on fake handbags.

It’s obvious that when Kyoto-Based artist Mitsuhiro Okamoto presented his “Batta Mon” series that he was critiquing the role that “fakes” play in the economy of fashion. Made from fake Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbag fabrics, the sculptures imitate locusts. However, LVMH has seemed to misread the objects and threatened to take legal action against The Kobe Fashion Museum in Kobe, Japan:

Unfortunately, Okamoto’s social commentary was lost on Louis Vuitton, who claim the ‘Batta Mon’ sculptures represent an endorsement of the illegal trade in counterfeit goods. The Kobe Fashion Museum promptly removed the sculptures from the exhibit in May, after receiving a letter of complaint from Louis Vuitton claiming that the works damage the image of their luxury products because they incorporate material from counterfeit products.

The hyper-sensitivity of LVMH’s response illustrates a fundamental problem with the way brands respond to copy rights and how they see their role in the cultural production — how to measure the ubiquity of their presence. First, a brand the caliber of LVMH relies on aspirational buyers as much as the wealthy. To keep their brand relevant, “the fake” is a homage that speaks to the ubiquity of said brand.

On the one hand, it is valid for them to see the use of fake material as perpetuating a negative trade. However, Okamoto’s critique can be read another way through the demonization of the fake. Secondly and most importantly, LVMH forgets the role of the art object — it’s aura and how it has the ability to reconfigure social activities. What is lost, here, is that we live in the era of the meme where brands vie for attention to keep their product top of mind.

Thus, when people experience these art objects, LVMH forgets how these interactions with such an art object speaks to LVMH’s ubiquity in a more meaningful manner. By doing it without the direction of LVMH, Okamoto’s artistic gesture may be a more sincere avenue of engaging with the brand than a standard add or status update on Facebook, and thereby, as every brand seeks to look for avenues of making their presence “shared”, LVMH misses out on the moments of tweeting, emailing and status updating of these objects (which only speak of their branded-presence) — the currency that many brands clamor over.

The Kobe Fashion Museum

[via: Pink Tentacle]

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