Hussain Rehar Plagiarism Row: Is Social Media The Right Platform To Discuss A Serious Issue Like Plagiarism?

Hussain Rehar

Those who follow Pakistani fashion trends and controversies would know, that a charge of plagiarism against designer Hussain Rehar for allegedly copying artist Alisha Yazdani’s work for his clothing line Jugnu grabbed the limelight.  Yazdani is also the proprietor of Kook Studio, an online store claims that Rehar ‘stole’ her work after initially proposing a collaboration.

The Plagiarism Charges

The designs in question featured a black background with elements like birds, flora, fauna, and traditional patterns in white that seems synonymous with Yazdani. Sharing a video on her Instagram, juxtaposing his work against her own, she wrote in the caption, “While I was in the process of finishing my own clothing line based on my colour palette (white on black) and my illustrations, I hear of this launch. How disheartening to live in a place where there is no concept of accountability and intellectual property rights. Please share if you feel the same.” Yazdani later added, “Edit: I never provided any of my work after negotiations fell through post meeting him. Months later I see a whole line replicating my work.”

Hussain Rehar

Hussain Rehar’s Side Of The Story

In response, Rehar took to his Instagram stories, denying the claims. He said that Jugnu drew inspiration from traditional African embroidery designs and was not influenced by any specific individual’s work. Rehar attributed any communication lapses to project postponements and clarified that they were not indicative of ill intentions.

Hussain Rehar

The designer assures that “Jugnu is dedicated to upholding the principles of artistic expression, cultural appreciation, and ethical design practices. We hold the artist community in high regard and are committed to resolving any misunderstandings in a respectful manner. We encourage open dialogue and look forward to ensuring that our shared passion for creativity continues to thrive.”

Can Social Media Help In Solving Such Issues?

Is social media the right platform to discuss a serious issue like plagiarism or design copying? As often photographic resemblance is seen as the only “proof” instead of a tangible examination of two similar-looking garments. Two similar designs can come about from completely different ideas and work trajectories. Are the designs patented or copyrighted? If not, does it leave the door open for others to interpret it? We feel the blurring lines between plagiarism, copying, inspiration, and derivation, need a forensic examination.

What Needs To Be Done

There is so much “copying” blatant and covert in the crafts and artisanal sectors of fashion: block prints, motifs on saris, weaving techniques and yarn mixes. How should that be redressed or corrected? Does anyone even bother?  What fashion in Pakistan needs is a council of senior industry professionals to come together and form The Plagiarism Council of Pakistani Fashion. One that comprises experienced designers currently in the business, retail experts, an academician who understands original silhouettes versus interpretations, history, and evolution, and a legal expert on the provisions of creative copyright in Pakistan.

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