When Copying Is Acceptable

The big story in fashion this week has been about Clare’s Accessories’ blatant copies of some well loved Tatty Devine pieces. Tatty Devine posted a blog post where it invited the reader to spot the difference between their originals and the copies costing a tenth of the price.

Twitter (of course) was outraged and made sure everyone knew about it. Clare’s Accessories trended for a while when your timeline was probably filled with “Shame on you Clare’s!” Claire’s have handled this blow up in a spectacularly bad way, deleting and blocking comments on their Facebook page, and ignoring Twitter completely.

At the same time, I was going through my neglected Google Reader and saw the latest in VIPXO‘s eBay posts. (I think its a great series, and Victoria does amazingly well to find some of those items). It made me wonder though – what makes the Clare’s Accessories thing bad but eBay fakes ok?

In both situations, a designer who sells an original for a high amount is being copied by someone else happy to sell at a lower cost (and lower quality). The difference (as far as I see) is that with Claires, its a large corporation ripping off an independent designer. With eBay, you don’t know who is behind the fake, and there’s always a possibility that its made in exactly the same factory as the original but without the label.

But why does that make it OK to buy the fakes? Where is the line drawn?


  1. Jen says

    I think there’s ‘designer inspired’ and there’s ‘designer rip off’. The high street would not exist without that initial inspiration from the catwalks, but there must be a line drawn somewhere. The Tatty Devine situation is terrible because Claire’s have DIRECTLY copied their designs – there’s no inspiration involved. The Claire’s pieces are pretending to be Tatty Devine, just like those Louis Vuitton bags from China are pretending to be the real deal.

    A few seasons ago Miu Miu did a range of adorable cat print pieces and after a few months, clothing, shoes and accessories with animal silhouette prints started appearing all over the high street. Clearly Miu Miu inspired, but not trying to BE Miu Miu. That, to me, is okay. A blatant rip off is not.

    Great post! :)

  2. SJP says

    I agree with Jen – there is a huge difference between inspiration, which less face it, is generated by catwalk trends which are reused and reworked every few seasons. I guess it is harder to swallow when a huge chain goes after a British indie label, but with eBay there is no one to blame, as sellers can hide behind screens in the way that Twitter folk get (safely) riled up from the comfort of their armchairs. x


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