Popular recording artist M.I.A recently collaborated with Donatella Versace to create a designer street wear collection inspired by Versace knock-offs (i.e. counterfeit garments)  frequently seen by the singer on the streets of London.

The Versus collection is not only aimed at introducing the singer’s personal style as a  fashion trend and improving Versace’s “street cred”, but it is hoped that this will go some way in further educating consumers about the negative impact of counterfeit goods on the economy and the hard-earned reputation of international luxury brands. In fact, the advertising campaign in respect of this collection includes images of models donning the street-style apparel next to hawkers of counterfeit Versace products. M.I.A also considered inverting Versace’s renowned LION logo, which is probably what sets genuine Versace Versus garments apart from their copycats. 

While this ironic bootlegging is bound to scorn those guilty of infringing Versace’s intellectual property rights, it has perhaps also opened the door for famous brand owners to draw inspiration from and work together with counterfeiters in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting in a rather unconventional way.  

The downside, of course, to this tactic is that in addition to fighting against counterfeiting, Versace may need to fight against the perception that its goods, specifically its designs, are less than original. However, considering that the products of a resourceful organisation, like Versace, result from the exercise of its own, independent, skill, effort and labour, and are probably an improvement of any design copied or re-invented, Versace should be well positioned to answer to any criticism. 

It might be advisable therefore for all brand owners to take a leaf out of Versace’s designer book and draw inspiration from this parody of counterfeit culture in an effort to highlight what is a very serious issue.  

To watch an interview with one of Adams & Adams’ partners on counterfeiting, click here.