This essay examines the contradictory politics around the appropriation of cultural material in the fashion world. While fashion does not qualify for copyright protection, a common set of copynorms based on socially accepted racial constructions of authorship, originality, creative property, and cultural impropriety define, adjudicate, and support some fashion-copying practices while stigmatizing others. This essay begins with a historical perspective of fashion copynorms. It then examines one case study — a dispute between a small ecoconscious design firm, Feral Childe, and a large clothing store, Forever 21 — to demonstrate how cultural frameworks and values about fashion copying are informed by and contribute to racial biases and blind spots.

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