Each Genuine Unauthorized garment starts with a life size digital print of a selfie taken by the artist in a luxury store dressing room. These dressing room selfies are used to develop the foundation for each garment in the project. Instead of recreating the item in the photograph, these new garments instead prioritize the flat photographic image, resulting in dresses that are sandwich-board-like in their construction, relying on simple pleats and the tromp l’oeil effect of the printed photograph for contouring.
The project approaches legality through the lens of appropriation. Censorship pixelization in both the garments and website design “redact” the “original” to crate a parody. The censorship walks the line of originality within the eyes of the legal system while evoking desire for that which we cannot have.
Originally intended to foster creativity and innovation, IP and copyright laws instead primarily function as a tool to uphold and preserve dominant systems of value and capital preservation for the wealthy. The project argues that these systems create something akin to a modern sumptuary code (historical laws that regulated consumption in order to preserve class and social hierarchies). The Genuine Unauthorized Clothing Clone Institute seeks to illustrate the logic of these law practices within the fashion industry with an experiment in appropriation and education.
The Genuine Unauthorized Clothing Clone institute is a project born out of desire and alienation. Developed by artist and designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury the project’s garments, free downloadable patterns and instructional videos are a visual primer into copyright and intellectual property law and illustrate systems of exclusion and hegemony. Trained as a pattern maker and fashion designer, her recent work is a kind counter-practice, working to create new ways of operating within the field of fashion and design. In 2014 she co-founded the Rational Dress Society, a collective that raises questions around identity and consumption through a radical approach to inclusive sizing. Using the fundamentally relational aspects of fashion as a critical platform, her work explores the discursive potential found in clothing and dressing, arguing for a rethinking and transformation of the fashion system. Glaum-Lathbury is an Associate Professor of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she teaches design and pattern making.
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