DESIGNER SERIES: Varun Bahl, Indian Couturier

“What is couture if not absolutely bespoke, both in make as well as concept?” – Varun Bahl Photo Credit: ELLE India November 2015


I was blown away when I visited Varun Bahl‘s studio in Delhi, India in 2011.  It was mesmerizing to see up close the details of the hand embroidery, beadwork, and embellishments that make up so many of his designs.  Varun is a true couturier. Nothing is mass-produced – it wouldn’t be possible with the level of intricacy in the textiles. And the good thing is,  textiles and patterns are among those fashion design elements – some of the few – that are almost universally protected by intellectual property laws.

India is one of the world’s leading producers of textiles-the sixth largest global exporter of textiles in the world.  India’s Copyright Act (1957) and the Design Act (2000) collectively give the guidelines for copyright protection for designs and textiles, as well as geographical indication protection for some textiles. Like many other jurisdictions, registration of a textile design in India is strongly encouraged to secure protection and reduce potential liability from or opposition by another party.

And although many countries offer copyright protection for fashion garments in their entirety, the United States does not. Various legislators and members of the fashion industry have worked tirelessly to gain support for the Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA), a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act that would give US copyright protection for full fashion designs, expanding on the current US protection that only extends to certain elements of the designs. By doing so, the US protection of fashion designs would reach a level of protection comparable to many European and Asian countries, India included.

Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar Bride India

Varun can rest easy in the knowledge that many of the unique and amazing features of his garments rightfully enjoy strong protection globally.  Fashion designs are not protected equally around the world but textiles are given almost universal proteciton.

If you’d like to know more about how to protect and/or register your copyright for designs or textiles, contact me at

Thanks to Varun Bahl for his cooperation with this post. If you’d like to learn more about Varun Bahl and see more of his designs, you can find him on Facebook or at his website VARUN BAHL.  

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