The High Street Plagiarism Living On Our Doorstep
In a time where entrepreneurship is so badly needed to help boost our local and national economies, it will never sit well that high street stores, from time to time, will make the very bad decision to risk plagiarising the designs of a lesser known creative. To learn that the apparent latest casualty is no other than our recently featured designer, Hayley Scanlan, fills us with dismay. The accused? None other than the high street fast fashion giant, New Look.
@newlookfashion REALLY? Not only have you completely copied the name of my last collection (and also noticeably the "Stay True" part my sister & I came up with) but you've used pretty much the exact same font for a T-shirt currently selling in your stores & online, blatantly making money from my work. I am actually gobsmacked! #plaigarism
The article in question (featured left): the Hayley Scanlan limited edition "Midnight Blue" t-shirt commemorating the achievement of ten collections. On the right, is New Look's latest product.
In all cases, we do try our best to remain impartial when issues as such come to light, however, in this particularly instance, the resemblance is undeniably striking. A fashion novice would struggle to tell the difference.
Currently, Hayley Scanlan is still waiting for a formal response from the High Street retailer, and social pressure is growing on New Look to answer for its apparent high street plagiarism.
When High Street Stores Steal - A Common Problem
Sadly, Hayley Scanlan's case is far from an isolated incident. With the rise of social media, it is becoming easier and easier for apparent "design slip-ups" to be made public, and increasingly so, we're seeing more reported instances of high street plagiarism than ever.
To think of a notable example, all we need to do is cast our minds back to as recently as July, 2016 - where emerging designer, Tuesday Bassen, took on high street behemoth Zara in accusation of stealing a number of her illustrative designs. Zara's umbrella company, Inditex, responded in a rather underwhelming way - stating that it ultimately rejected her copyright claims due to the lack of "distinctiveness" of her designs.
The social media outcry was enormous - and consequently the issue was picked up by publication giants, including Vogue, helping to raise awareness of the emerging designer's plight.
Now we wait. I wish I had updates for you, but now lawyers are talking to lawyers. It's as important as ever to keep talking about this because MORE cases are being uncovered of fast fashion stores stealing from artists (see what happened to @saramlyons yesterday!).
A post shared by Tuesday Bassen (@tuesdaybassen) on
Looking further, a simple Google search of examples of plagiarism by high street stores of emerging creatives leads to a rather depressing result: reams and reams of instances similar to Tuesday Bassen. But, how exactly do the big players get away with it? It takes some brass neck to call many of the purported instances simply "coincidence."
The reality is, emerging designers and start-ups are faced with simply too many operation and financial challenges to effectively fight back against the money-makers. The sheer cost of legal fees to get some serious face time with a brand begins in the thousands. For some designers, that's the equivalent of paying the rent for three months. For many start-ups, it's a time issue - with many holding down two or more jobs to help get their business up and off the ground.
Profit margins are getting tighter and tighter with the big brands as scrutiny is cast on production processes. Perhaps emerging designers are easy prey.
What Can We Do to Fight Back?
Emerging designers may not have the financial resources or indeed the man power to go after the big brands in a way that would considerably change the modus operandi, however, what they do have is a very public forum in the form of social media.
They say all PR is good PR, but try telling that to the social media team that has to deal with an onslaught of angry keyboard gangsters and armchair critics. Using the virality of the Internet is in fact a very effective way to make retail giants sit up and take note - they don't want to lose their loyal customers after all.
So, if you feel as impassioned as us, share it. An average user may only have 200 odd followers, but that's 200 entire people who are captive to your thoughts. 200 people standing outside of New Look's headquarters, shouting their lungs out wouldn't be ignored in the flesh - and it won't be online.
And if you want a new and funky t-shirt, think twice - and shop local with your designer. The high street stores definitely do not need your money as much as your local economy does.
Have you been affected by high street plagiarism? How are you fighting back and supporting emerging designers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!