On a more scholarly note, business columnist James Surowiecki argues against strengthened intellectual property laws, saying copying and knockoffs in fashion stimulate productivity and innovation. Surowiecki points out there is "little evidence that knockoffs are damaging" the luxury fashion business (not exactly a stance that will please the magazine's fashion and luxury goods advertisers). He cites a paper by two law professors (who also made their case in The New Republic in August) positing that, in an industry that can offer few engineering improvements to convince consumers to buy something new, knockoffs create "induced obsolescence:" when a trend becomes easily accessible and ubiquitous, early adopters move on and generate "the incessant demand for something new." Moreover, Surowiecki argues that the knockoffs "are, for the most part, targeted at an entirely different market segment — people who appreciate high style but can't afford high prices." Knockoffs, he writes, may even act as "gateway drugs," encouraging buyers to someday buy the originals. But he does draw a distinction between counterfeits — which are illegal — and knockoffs which, for the moment, are not.
At 105 pages, advertising for the issue is up 25 percent over last year, which was flat over 2005. Brands advertising in the issue include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Bulgari. — Irin Carmon