On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court ruled on the 'Star Athletica versus Varsity Brands' case which explored the issue of copyrighting of design elements of cheerleading uniforms, specifically the chevron, stripes and other patterns.
The ruling of 6-2 in favour of Varsity Brand's will allow elements of a garment's design to be protected by copyright law, as stated in the Court's documents. "The Copyright Act of 1976 makes 'pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features' of the 'design of a useful article' eligible for copyright protection as artistic works if those features 'can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.' "
Basically, this means that certain aesthetic elements of the designs of cheerleader uniforms which are 'designs for a useful article' are protected from being incorporated into, say, a ready-to-wear collection unless they are different enough from the original article's useful or functional aspect.
The ruling as it stands does not necessarily protect all designers from imitations and knockoffs but opens the door to that conversation by providing designers grounds on which to defend themselves from high street retailers such as Topshop and H&M who put out replicas of designer collections before the originals have a chance to be in stores.
So that deceptively Gucci-like pair of slip on loafers you're wearing from Zara, affordable though it may be, might be illegal in years to come.