Spanish ceramics manufacturer Sargadelos accuses Dolce & Gabbana of plagiarism
A new controversy is looming over Dolce & Gabbana. This time, it has nothing to do with the Asian community or the label’s relationship with leading social media influencers. The issue concerns instead several items of the Italian label’s Spring/Summer 2021 menswear collection, presented at a catwalk show in July last year. Spanish ceramics manufacturer Sargadelos, based in the region of Galicia, has claimed that the prints featured by the label designed by Domenico Dolce e Stefano Gabbana are nothing less than a “blatant copy” of its signature geometric patterns.
Sargadelos may not be internationally known, but it is a benchmark name in traditional Spanish ceramics. In Galicia, it is rare to find a household where Sargadelos tableware, coffee sets, decorative ceramics or even small jewellery do not feature prominently. Sargadelos was founded in Cervo, in the province of Lugo, in 1806. In recent years, it transformed itself from a name that was recognised only locally, one typically considered for wedding presents or souvenirs, into a leading home decoration and design object brand on the Spanish market. Its products have become coveted collector items, and are appealing to a younger clientèle than in the past.
A leap into modernity that not only translated into an extension and diversification of Sargadelos’s product range, which now includes perfumes and fashion accessories, but also boosted the brand’s international reputation. Together with an augmented media presence, which may have prompted Dolce & Gabbana designers to discover Galician culture, without needing to embark on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to appreciate Sargadelos’s iconic blue geometric patterns on white ceramic.
“Sargadelos’s main asset are its designs. And the similarity with Dolce & Gabbana’s prints is frankly excessive,” FashionNetwork.com was told by a spokesperson for Sargadelos, contacted after a news report by local daily La Voz de Galicia was published on April 11. According to La Voz de Galicia, Sargadelos’s management contacted Dolce & Gabbana in February, asking the label to withdraw from the Spanish market several items of its menswear collection, in which the ceramics producer had identified “echoes of and similarities with the designs patented several decades ago by Sargadelos.”
The pattern at the heart of this controversy is ‘Monférico’, a patented geometric motif that Sargadelos has been selling since 1967. “Our Monférico [pattern] is undistinguishable from many of the creations publicised this season in the [Italian label’s] men’s line,” said Sargadelos to La Voz de Galicia. “We’re not upset that they drew their inspiration from us, but we cannot abide with being copied so brazenly,” Sargadelos told FashionNetwork.com, explaining that the matter is currently in their lawyers’ hands, who are “awaiting a response from Dolce & Gabbana.”
The Milanese luxury label has stated that its Spring/Summer 2021 menswear collection was inspired by the work of 20th century Italian designer and architect Gio Ponti, who designed the Pirelli Tower in Milan. It may be a coincidence, or an ironic twist of fate, but between 1923 and 1938 Ponti collaborated with renowned Italian ceramics manufacturer Richard Ginori.
If Dolce & Gabbana’s alleged plagiarism of the Sargadelos patterns was to be confirmed, the label would be facing a second legal case in recent months. At the beginning of March, Dolce & Gabbana filed a complaint against Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler, the duo behind Diet Prada, the fashion/social activism Instagram account. For Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, it is a way of defending themselves from Diet Prada’s “defamation,” in the wake of the scandal provoked by the infamous video steeped in racial prejudice about China that not only forced the Italian label to cancel a major show in Shanghai in 2018, but also put in great jeopardy its relationship with customers and buyers beyond East Asia.
Contacted by FashionNetwork.com, Dolce & Gabbana denied copying any of Sargadelos’s patterns, but refrained from confirming whether the items at the heart of the controversy will be withdrawn or not. “Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2021 men’s collection is inspired by the work carried out by Gio Ponti at [Milan’s] Parco dei Principi hotel. We have signed a licensing agreement with the Italian architect and designer’s estate, which owns the rights in question,” said an official spokesperson for Dolce & Gabbana.
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