Maria B is a brand that has huge retail presence in Pakistan, the UK and now in India as well. The designer has been working with Indian textile company Sahiba for over a year now, and while Sahiba imports and distributes Maria B’s embroidered silk range (that is manufactured in Pakistan), the textile manufacturer prints and retails Maria B collections in lawn and linen in India itself. The numbers show that stats for all three variations of fabric are booming. With sale comes popularity and with popularity comes the downside, plagiarism.
All three embroidered silk collections of Maria B in 2015 have been copied and are being circulated widely in India. They’re even being marketed in high-end campaigns featuring Karisma Kapoor.
“The sheer magnitude of how it’s being done is getting to me,” the designer spoke to Instep after another series of Maria B prints was copied and circulated in India last week. “Our prints and designs are being copied on such a huge scale and so much money and effort is being put into marketing the ‘fakes.’ The shoots are extremely high standard and the irony is that these shoots are misleading people into thinking that we’ve copied the prints revealed in the Karisma Kapoor campaign!”
The quality of the shoot may be premium but, Maria shares, the quality of the copied product is inferior.
“They’re not getting the quality right,” she shares. “We use premium, pure silk and chiffon whereas the fakes are being made in polyester based fabric. We use Swarovski crystals in our designs but the duplicates are being made with cheap embellishments.”
Maria B prints up to five different collections of her luxury fabric a year and so far all three printed in 2015 have been plagiarized and are being sold at half the price. If an original Maria B retails for INR 6000 in India then the fakes are selling for anything between INR 2500-5000, which impacts sale of the originals, the designer rightfully frets. However, there isn’t much that can be done about it.
“Plagiarism laws in India are possibly worse than Pakistan,” Maria has been told as Sahiba, the manufacturer she works with, gets copied all the time.
One can understand the frustration of being plagiarized at such a big scale, especially when it directly impacts sale of the original product. That said, there is a silver lining to this story. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it is evidence of Maria’s popularity as a brand. Maria B fabric is currently being sold at approximately 10-15 significant retailers in every major city in India so distribution is massive and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that she’s become a household name across the border. Also, at a time when every other Pakistani designer is being accused of copying/plagiarizing and imitating foreign brands and designs, it is – at the risk of sounding misguided – somewhat refreshing to see the tables turn.
The original Maria B designs feature Swarovski crystals whereas the fakes feature Karisma Kapoor. In a country where nothing sells better than Bollywood, that’s tough competition to match!