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Vietnamese Model Confesses to Plagiarism, Doesn't Care

We've all seen our fair share of “Chanel” and “Gucci” floating around this city. In the world of contemporary Vietnamese fashion, imitation – or out-and-out plagiarism – is the sincerest form of flattery.

However, a recent article in Thanh Nien called into question Vietnam's longstanding issue with copycat designers and plagiarized designs after Saigon-based designer Huy Tran accused a local model, Ngoc Trinh, of stealing one of his designs.

Her response? She didn't steal it from him, but Victoria Beckham.

“I admitted that the design was a copy, but not from Huy Tran,” the model wrote on her Facebook, according to Thanh Nien. “It’s a suit Victoria Beckham wore on a Miami street in June.”

Trinh, who is signed to Venus Entertainment Corp., has been spotted on numerous occasions in carbon-copy designs that match the likes of Elie Saab, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. While this wouldn't fly elsewhere in the world, Trinh makes no apologies for her plagiarized clothing.

“Ninety percent of the clothes at my shop are copies of well-known designs in the world,” Trinh wrote. “Some are copied from local designers. If a customer sends me a photo of a design, I will have a perfect copy tailor-made for them.”

“It is not a big deal in Vietnam,” she continued. “I only want to make beautiful, elegant but affordable clothes for my customers. I have never called myself a designer.”

Though it's easy to point fingers at Trinh, the model is not alone in this sentiment. Last year, singer My Tam was criticized for wearing an outfit which resembled a Viktor & Rolf dress. The frock's designer, Cong Tin, had originally claimed that it was an exclusive design for the singer, however later admitted to plagiarism.

And that was that: no punishment, no fines, no legal proceedings. While this is not a shock in Vietnam, local law actually does forbid the theft of intellectual property, punishing the offender with fines from VND15-35 million. However, according to lawyer Nguyen Duc Chanh, these cases are not easy to fight.

“Plagiarism cases are complicated,” Chanh told Thanh Nien. “And since most of the owners of the original designs live in other countries, they seldom know about their work being copied and they do not file complaints.”

Meanwhile, Ngoc Trinh's statement seems to have been enough for Huy Tran to back down, once again pushing away from the issue of intellectual property theft in Vietnam's fashion world. The designer later removed his accusation from social media, posting the following comment: “I just don't want to kick up dust.”

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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