Exhibition Overview

Gray Area: Authenticity, Value, and Subversion in Fashion features a series of case studies that explore the complexity of the fashion system, and the ways in which clothing and accessories are deemed to possess—or lack—the intangible traits that foster desire and cultural value at any given moment.

In the late nineteenth century, authentic French goods were so highly coveted that they were smuggled into the United States by concealing them within undergarments. Later, licensed patterns provided an opportunity for women to emulate the styles of beloved silver screen stars. From the second half of the twentieth century on, logo-covered handbags have proved to be irresistible sources of income and inspiration to counterfeiters and contemporary artists alike. Alternatively, renowned American companies such as Stetson and Kenneth Jay Lane have carved out unique legacies of their own with fertile ground for subsequent followers. In recent years, as the top-down hierarchy within fashion has been increasingly reconsidered, surprising collaborations between individuals and brands have come about.

While the fruits of these labors have been sanctioned and decried, they help make up the cutting edge of contemporary fashion thought. The stories presented here are indicative of the layered and nuanced narratives that have always been inextricably linked to the study of fashion.

Selected Bibliography

Abdul-Jabar, Hind. “Smuggled in the Bustle.” The Fashion Studies Journal, (August, 2017). http://www.fashionstudiesjournal.org/4-histories-2/2017/8/1/smuggled-in-the-bustle.

----“Smuggled in the Bustle: Fashionable Smuggling in Gilded Age New York 1870-1900.” Master’s thesis, New York University, 2014.

“A Biographical Directory of the United States Customs Service 1771-1989.” The United States Customs Service, Washington D.C., 1985.

Benjamin, Walter. “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” Illuminations. Translated by Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1969, 217-52.

Broughton, Catharine. “Suggestions for Dressmakers.” The Morse-Broughton Co., New York, 1896.

Calahan, April and Cassidy Zachary. “Smuggled in the Bustle: An Interview with Hind Abdul-Jabbar.” April 3, 2018, in How Stuff Works - Dressed: The History of Fashion, podcast, MP3 audio, 31 minutes. https://www.dressedpodcast.com/podcasts/smuggled-in-the-bustle-an-interview-with-hind-abdul-jabbar.htm.

Caramanica, Jon. “Is Gucci Stylish or Tacky? Yes.” The New York Times, May 30, 2018, Style. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/style/gucci-critical-shopper.html.

Ellwood, Mark. “Inside the High-Tech World of Luxury Fraudbusters.” Robb Report, November 13, 2018. https://robbreport.com/style/fashion/inside-billion-dollar-luxury-counter-fraud-industry-2828115/

England, Robert (Historian, Stetson). Interviewed by Marisa Lujan. New York, NY, December 11, 2018.

 “Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits.” The Museum at FIT. 2014. http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum/exhibitions/faking-it.php.

Forgione, Joseph M. “Counterfeiting, Couture, and the Decline of Consumer Trust in Online Marketplace Platforms.” New York Law School Law Review 61, no. 2 (2016-2017): 195-207. http://www.nylslawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2017/09/Law-Review-61.2-Forgione.pdf.

 Forman, Ari Saal (Designer, Menthol 10s). Interviewed by Aanchal Bakshi, New York, NY, December 17, 2018.

 Harold, Christine. “Anti-Logos: Sabotaging the Brand through Parody.” In OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, 27-69

 Klein, Naomi. No Logo. London: Flamingo, 2000.

 Laboissonniere, Wade. Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub Ltd., 1997.

 Lane, Kenneth Jay and Harrice Simmons Miller. Kenneth Jay Lane: Faking It. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Lane, Kenneth Jay. Interviewed by Mija Riedel. “Oral history interview with Kenneth Jay Lane.” New York, NY, June 9-10, 2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-kenneth-jay-lane-15957#transcript.

 Marsden, Rhodri. “'Genericide': When brands get too big.” The Independent, June 10, 2011, Business Analysis & Features. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/genericide-when-brands-get-too-big-2295428.html.

 McKinley, William. “The Tariff: A Review of Tariff Legislation of the United States from 1812 to 1896.” G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1904.

 “Meet Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler: The Duo Behind Diet Prada.” The Fashion Law. October 19, 2017. http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/meet-tony-liu-and-lindsey-schuyler-the-duo-behind-diet-prada.

 Nemy, Enid. “At 37, Life New Sparkles for Kenneth Jay Lane.” The New York Times, January 17, 1970.

 Raustiala, Kal and Christopher Sprigman. The Knockoff Economy: How Imitation Sparks Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

 Reynolds, Alexandra. “Working with Vintage Patterns.” Threads Magazine, November 4, 2008. https://www.threadsmagazine.com/2008/11/04/working-with-vintage-patterns.

 Scafidi, Susan. Who Owns Culture: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law. Rutgers: New Brunswick. 2005. 

 Sherman, Lauren. “Diet Prada Unmasked.” Business of Fashion, May 8, 2018, Intelligence, https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/professional/diet-prada-instagram-unmasked-tony-liu-lindsey-schuyler.

 Snyder, Jeffrey B. Stetson Hats and the John B. Stetson Company: 1865-1970. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997.

 Spanabel Emery, Joy. A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

 Tu, Kevin V. “Counterfeit Fashion: The Interplay Between Copyright and Trademark Law in Original Fashion Designs and Designer Knockoffs.” Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal 18, (2010): 419-422.