Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 16:36 UK

Fashion house puts designs online

Pamoyo shirt design (Pic: Pamoyo)
The first design on offer is a shirt from a new Styled With Heart range
A German fashion label has taken the unusual step of making its designs and patterns freely available on the internet - for anyone to use.

Pamoyo, based in the Kreuzberg region of Berlin, are publishing their designs on their website under a Creative Commons licence - a free tool allowing work to be marked but also granting freedom of use to others.

The move has been seen as a major departure for the fashion industry, where companies more usually guard their designs under strongly-enforced patents.

"You see a lot of court cases from fashion labels that don't want their designs copied," Franz Prins, one of the company's chief designers, told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme.

"But a lot of young people see things differently. They are used to using the internet, exchanging information on a free basis."

'Completely new'

The Pamoyo website allows users to download A4-sized PDF files of the raw designs, to create and alter any way they see fit.

Creative Commons licences have helped power the growth of the open-source internet, but have so far been more usually applied to information websites such as Wikipedia, or photo-sharing sites such as Flickr.

"Everybody's free to use [the designs], as long as they attribute us as the source," said Cecilia Palmer, the company's other chief designer.

Models in Pamoyo clothes (Pic: Pamoyo)
Pamoyo say they are keen to include publically-designed pieces
"If they make new works based on this, they must publish them under the same Creative Commons licence."

People can also contribute their own ideas to the designs, potentially being able to sell clothes they have designed through the company.

"Part of our philosophy is not to be a one-man band, but to involve the creativity of other designers into the label," Ms Palmer added.

"I would really love it if one of our designs gets worked into something completely new and comes back to be part of our collection."

Mr Prince is hoping more labels will do this, allowing them to exchange their patents over the internet. Both believe this will happen soon.

"I really believe we will be seeing more of it," she said.

"It's something happening in many aspects of design, and also in science - to have more openness. And this will definitely happen in fashion."

Trend guru Martin Raymond of the Future Laboratory said that open source is increasingly being used by business, as it allows the cost of research and development to be spread over a wide number of people.

"Yes, there are people arguing it is demonstrating ideas that don't have a value or a confidence to them, and ultimately it is a good way to dilute even the best idea by dividing it up between the lowest common denominators," he said.

"But if you look at the case studies and the evidence, it provides companies with new ideas and divergent views, and greater market opportunities and penetration.

"The problem you have with the process is not every company is honest about how they pay for those ideas, and how they reward people for making the effort."

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