Fashion heavyweights spat! Wendell Rodricks alleges Payal Khandwala 'blatantly copying' his designs

Mar 09, 2018, 08:58 IST | Shweta Shiware

Goan designer Wendell Rodricks alleges that Payal Khandwala is "blatantly copying" his designs, while she says both are just inspired by Japanese minimalism

Wendell Rodricks
Wendell Rodricks

Who owns an idea? According to Wendell Rodricks, it belongs to the one who thought of it first. The veteran Goa-based designer accused his former understudy, Payal Khandwala of "blatant copying", on his social media account yesterday.

It wasn't one garment he was referring to but the technique of pleating which he is now synonymous with, that he felt the young Mumbai designer had adopted, making her garments seem like replicas of his. "I'm terribly disappointed that she [Khandwala] is making money using my brand's DNA. I have been doing this [pleating] since 1995," Rodricks told mid-day over the phone from his Colvale residence.

Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor had posted this snap on Instagram in July 2016 where she is seen in a pleated Khandwala ensemble from her Spring/Summer 2016 collection

He narrated how, on more than one occasion since last December, he had noticed that celebrity friends and acquaintances had worn pleated designs in juicy block tones. "When I inquired, they said they weren't my designs." A recent Instagram post by Shruti Sitara Singh, fashion manager with IMG Reliance, in a red, pleated Payal Khandwala design, prodded him to speak out. "At a time when the fashion industry is reeling [under stress] with demonetisation and GST, it's deplorable… now since it [the copying] affects our business, I am forced to call this out," he said in the post.

Khandwala, however, clarified that the outfit Rodricks was referring to on his Insta account, is an unstitched jacket from her Spring/Summer 2016 collection, while the picture he posted of his design beside it, is a tailored dress. "If anybody should claim copyright on pleating, it's Japanese design genius Issey Miyake, who introduced it in 1993," she said. "I'm not a copycat. We are both inspired by the Japanese aesthetic of minimalism, and that's where the likeness ends."

Shruti Sitara Singh  wearing a 2016 Payal Khandwala creation
Shruti Sitara Singh wearing a 2016 Payal Khandwala creation

Some may say that designs by Rodricks and Khandwala appear identical because of the way they are styled. Rodricks disagrees. "Her design is too close [to mine] for comfort. We live in a country where it took seven years for the government to approve my brand logo while bodies like the Fashion Design Council of India and Lakmé Fashion Week don't want to get involved. So, who is going to fight plagiarism?"

Payal Khandwala
Payal Khandwala

Oddly, the two aren't strangers. Rodricks was Khandwala's mentor, recommending her for a showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week way back 2012 when she was a newcomer. Khandwala shared that six years ago, she had called Rodricks to express her interest in working with pleats, and that's when he suggested that she work with a Mumbai-based pleating expert. "It was Wendell who put me in touch with Ritesh. If my intent was to copy his designs, why would I call him?" she argued.

A Wendell Rodricks design featuring pleats from his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection
A Wendell Rodricks design featuring pleats from his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection

Rodricks claimed that the said conversation never took place. It was as recently as January that another copyright controversy hit headlines when the Christian Dior dress Sonam Kapoor wore for a magazine shoot carried the Yoga print, which Delhi indie print firm People Tree, claimed its designers had created and used since the early 2000s.

What's pleating?
It's the tucking of fabric into double or multiple folds held by stitching the top or side to add fullness to a shape. Its variants include accordion, knife, box, inverted box, godet, sunray, cartridge and circular.

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