Zimmermann lands in hot water at New York Fashion Week
(cover: Zimmermann SS14 backstage via Sonny Vandevelde)
UPDATE 11/09/13 07.08 AEST: Frockwriter contacted Zimmermann's Sydney-based PR company MCMPR several times yesterday, but as already pointed out, no official spokespersons (at either MCMPR or Zimmermann's Sydney HQ) were available for comment.
Overnight, Nicky Zimmermann responded via email. Here are her comments. We are still wondering why it has taken until now for a response to the original claims. The story has been winging its way across social media for four days. Isn't that what brands do these days - scan social media for mentions, positive or otherwise?
"The suggestion that we've copied a bra is really disappointing and untrue. I've never heard of the brand or seen their lingerie before. I can see that there's similarities between the bra and swimsuit in the side-on photo on your blog, but to say that we copied it is nonsense. We've spent years creating and developing our own V and U wires and the one in this swimsuit is a wire we designed and have used previously - its something that we have evolved over seasons and has been incorporated previously in our swim and in clothing. Actually the same wire is used in a one piece from our last Resort collection that's on the cover of this month's Australian Harper's Bazaar. There's even a bodysuit that Miley Cyrus was shot in a few years ago that uses an earlier wire of ours. We work really hard on exploring and developing our ideas in our swim season after season. To have someone pop up without properly asking me for any comment and to seek media attention and try to leverage off our brand reputation is disappointing". - Nicky Zimmermann
Way to rain on someone's New York Fashion Week parade.
It is with a heavy heart that Frockwriter feels her reporter's duty to bring your attention to a little storm in an A cup that has been brewing since Sydney fashion label Zimmermann made a splash on the runways of The Big Apple on Friday.
Zimmermann's 'Ringmaster' collection for Spring/Summer 2014 was inspired by "the circus, Harlequins, melting makeup and the ringmaster" and featured some pretty ruffled organza tea dresses and skirts in soft clown and "mascara" prints under intricate, assymetric cross-over tops; metallic trousers with paper bag waists; a series of intricately-panelled metallic dresses and skirts and of course the brand's stellar, best-selling swimwear - including, as always, some spectacular showpieces.
The kinds of showpieces that don't always make it into production but which are designed to grab press attention and make the indelible brand statement that Zimmermann is a fashion label first and foremost, which just happens to have a highly profitable sideline in killer swimwear.
Unfortunately, one specific garment in Zimmermann's NYFW debut show has snagged the kind of attention that Zimmermann probably wasn't hoping to attract by the New York move.
Virtually the nanosecond one black two piece with a bikini top featuring a striking exposed underwire detail appeared on the brand's runway on Friday, the piece garnered quite some attention on social media and even three mainstream media outlets in Belgium.
What's the Belgian connection?
Ghent-based lingerie designer Murielle Victorine Scherre, who has a 10 year-old brand called La Fille d'O, feels the bikini top bears far too much of a resemblance to her best-selling "One" bra. Described as a "mono wired bra in sheer tulle" it sells for 85 Euros on the Fille d'O site - and A$130 at the brand's sole Australian stockist, Darlinghurst lingerie boutique Baby Likes to Pony.
Shortly after runway images of the Zimmermann show began to surface online, Scherre published three Instagram posts.
The first, a runway shot accompanied by the words "Guess who's at #NYFW? Is it your beloved #lfdo?. The second (below), a "regram" of an Instagram post by Australian fashion site Fashionising of the same runway image, together with the words, " Oops. #zimmermann #copycat #nyfw"; and another regram, this time of an Instagram post by Belgian fashion blogger Mello Cake (screen shot below), showing a split screen composite of the the Fille d'O garment and the Zimmermann garment, with "COPY" written in red over the top of Zimmermann's image.
"#regramarama #naughty #whatsinaname @zimmermann #copycat thanks for giving me free catwalk #exposure" noted Scherre in her Instagram next to the latter image - CC'ing in Zimmermann by using what they believed was the brand's Instagram handle in the post. The correct handle is in fact "@zimmermann_".
"So @zimmermann_ shamelessly STEALS @lafilledo by debuting a bra that I've been wearing for years????#nyfw #lfdo #zimmermann #isthisshitlegal? #share" noted Mello Cake in her original Instagram - using the correct Zimmermann handle.
Scherre also drew her concerns to the attention of Vogue Australia, by making comments on the latter's Instagram photo of the same swimsuit. "You need this black tie swimsuit" noted Vogue Australia (screen shot below). "Or you could check out the original at @lafilledo" responded Scherre in the comments. Note several others CC'd in Zimmermann in the comments by using the "@zimmermann_" handle.
The story then made it into three separate Belgian news outlets: the De Morgen newspaper and subsequently picked up by Het Nieuwsblad and She.be, all of whose headlines essentially accused Zimmermann of plagiarism.
"It is our best-selling model" Scherre told Het Nieuwsblad of the 'One' bra.
As far as we can ascertain, no comment was sought from Zimmermann by the latter mainstream media outlets.
Nevertheless, given that critical comments by Scherr and various other parties have appeared on multiple social media outlets since Friday - repeatedly CC'ing in Zimmermann's Instagram handle and using the #zimmermann hashtag - the matter cannot surely have escaped the attention of the Zimmermann camp.
Plagiarism is of course endemic across the fashion industry the world over and Australia is by no means immune from it. Indeed, back in 1995 this journalist wrote a 4000 word exposé on the problem in Australia, which wound up as a cover story of the since defunct Australian current affairs magazine The Independent Monthly.
Zimmermann is, however, a brand renowned for its originality.
Zimmermann made its first foray into the international market via the runways of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (then called Mercedes Australian Fashion Week) back in 1996.
Although established in 1991, the brand introduced a capsule swimwear collection for that year's inaugural MBFWA because the Zimmermann sisters - designer Nicky and business manager Simone - believed that swimwear may well prove an easier export entree to the already-saturated international fashion market.
Noted for its highly innovative prints and fashion focus - Zimmermann swimwear was at the forefront of, among other things, the boyleg trend over the past decade - the swimwear took off internationally.
The duo gradually began injecting their fashion and resortwear into the export ranges and Zimmermann has since emerged as one of the Australian fashion industry's biggest success stories, with 14 standalone boutiques in Australia, two in the US and a further five slated to open in that market within the next two years, alongside 80 US stockists.