Is imitation the highest form of flattery?
Well, if you’re a small brand trying to earn a buck – it’s a flat no!
Most of you will be up to speed with the ongoing situation between Khloe Kardashian and independent designer Destiney Bleu. If not, Google it. It certainly isn’t the first time that a Kardashian has been accused of copying (again, Google it…) and unfortunately the practice is a lot more widespread that it should be. The fashion industry holds no prisoners. It’s dog eat dog and if you’re fortunate enough to come up with a hit design – expect to be copied…a lot.
Whilst we, the end customer, tend to be the winner. I mean, who doesn’t love a designer knock-off from Zara? The big, often unseen, losers are the independent designers. The ones that don’t have the money to sue if they’re copied by a big brand. One can’t deny that many fast fashion retailers business model is to copy – sacrificing quality and originality.
So, whilst Khloe Kardashian’s dispute with Destiney Blue appears to be a one-off – copying is somethig that happens in the fashion industry on a regular basis. Good American certainly won’t be the last brand with clout to be accused of copying a smaller designer. Neither was it the first. Check out 9 other big brands that have been accused of copying.
Chanel (left); Pamela Love (right)
Pamela Love vs Chanel
In 2012 Parisian powerhouse Chanel came under fire for designing jewellery in their AW12 that looked strikingly similar to Pamela Love’s AW11 collection. Chanel were publicly called out about the possible copyright infringement and eventually withdrew the jewellery from their collection. Pamela Love, a Brooklyn based independent jewellery designer said, “Being copied by fast fashion designers really waters everything down. It makes our ideas less special, which ultimately hurts our business and our authenticity…”
Hannah Hill vs Topshop
In 2016 student, Hannah Hill, accused Topshop of using one of her illustrations without permission. The fine art student tweeted a side by side image of her ‘Halloween Queen’ patch alongside Topshop’s eerily similar “design”. Whilst Hannah let her followers on social media know that Topshop had assured her that the merchandise would be removed from their online store she was adamant that she should be compensated for the use of her design without prior consent. And, rightly so.
Kesh x American Apparel (left); Versace (right)
Kesh vs Versace
For SS13 British born, LA-based designer and artist Kesh, designed a collection in collaboration with American Apparel. The monochrome unisex collection appeared to have some high profile fans because two years later Versace released an almost identical t-shirt. The distinctive artwork was where the similarities ended as Versace priced their t-shirt at $600; 20 times more expensive than the Kesh x American Apparel original which retailed for $30. Speaking on her Instagram at the time Kesh said, “”$650. Versace rip off. Sold out in three sizes. What is this madness? From huge designer labels to small boutiques, to giant pop stars, to fame-hungry former friends. What is this? Why can’t these companies, these brands, these people create their own work? What happened? Why do these people think that everything that they lay their eyes on instantly belongs to them? At least make it better than the $30 original Versace…”
Jeremy Scott (left); Jim Phillips (right)
Jim Phillips vs Jeremy Scott
In February 2013, fashion designer Jeremy Scott found himself in hot water after legendary artists Jim Phillips and his son Jimbo sued him for copyright infringement. Jim Phillips is the former art director of Santa Cruz Skateboards and his designers are a cherished part of skateboard culture. In a statement following Scotts AW13 catwalk show Bob Denike of NHS, the parent company of Santa Cruz Skateboards released an official statement which read, ““We had never heard of Jeremy Scott until it was brought to our attention. This is not a collaboration or under license, nor did the Phillips family or we approve the use of this artwork on his apparel designs in any way. It’s obvious to us, the Phillips family, the fans of Jim Phillips Sr. and Jimbo Phillips, and fans of the brand Santa Cruz Skateboards, as well as many in the global skateboard and skate art community that there is clear and obvious infringement by Mr. Scott. We are discussing this with our legal team to determine our next steps.” 18 months later NHS and the Phillips resolved their copyright dispute with Scott.
Hood by Air (left); Opening Ceremony (right)
Hood by Air vs Opening Ceremony
For SS14 Opening Ceremony appeared to pay homage to luxe streetwear brand Hood By Air. Coincidentally, Hood by Air is stocked by Opening Ceremony so whilst it would be difficult to accuse OC of outright copying, their SS14 was certainly a deviation from their usual aesthetics.
Stay Home Club (left); River Island (left)
Stay Home Club vs River Island
Stay Home Club are a small Canadian apparel and homeware brand and in July of last year River Island became the latest in a long line of retailers who have appeared to rip them off…again. Clearly not one to take things lying down Stay Home Club posted a message to River Island via Instagram. They said, Hey @riverisland I know you’re on a budget and all but let me know if you need any help finding a designer who knows how to draw or a patch manufacturer who knows how to sew – ok? SMDH 🙄. Laughably bad knockoff…”
ACRONYM (left); Gucci (right)
ACRONYM vs Gucci
Berlin-based functional techwear brand ACRONYM must have thought they were having a case of deja vu following Gucci Men’s SS14 show. Gucci showed a windbreaker that could pass for ACRONYM’s GT-J5A design. The signature design was originally introduced in their AW07 show and then again as a permanent fixture from their Aw10 collection. The similarity didn’t pass Errolson Hugh, the man behind the brand, who tweeted, “”‘ACRONYM… by GUCCI…’ Now available… #LOL #gucciripsacronym…I think it’s the same actually. I’ll let you know when I get one. Haha.”
Saylor Rose vs Nasty Gal
When online retailer, Nasty Gal, was accused of ripping off fashion jewellery designer Saylor Rose rather than take the high road and ignore the accusation or respond through a lawyer they decided to take a different route. Which, involved publicly taking a swipe at the accuser. Nasty Gal founder, Sophia Amoruso didn’t take kindly to the manner in which Saylor Rose called out the brand. Nasty Gal posted a picture of the below bangle with the caption ‘Represent’ and a link to purchase said bangle. To which, Saylor Rose commented with, “Dear @nastygal, thanks for coping [sic] me. You can go f*** yourselves.” Amoruso, responded with, “We are pulling it from the site. Forgive us for never having heard of you and give me a break for having done so. There are better ways of eliciting a response from us and it starts with being polite. Congrats, you’ve been knocked off. It’s a rite of passage.” Ouch!
Everyone vs Zara
When it comes to suspected copyright infringement at least you can say Zara do not discriminate. At present Zara could be facing a potential lawsuit from Danish rainwear designer RAINS. The fast fashion retailer not only takes “inspiration” from luxury retailer such as Burberry, Loewe and Balenciaga; but also the little guys. Last year Zara was reportedly facing lawsuits from at least 12 independent designers. One of the most highly publicised incidents was between Zara and illustrator Tuesday Bassen. Bassen showed her disdain on Twitter by saying, “Companies like @zara make it a business plan to steal designs from indie artists & condescend when you want payment.”