Tatty Devine vs Claire’s: The trickle-down effect, or outright copycatting?
Yesterday saw a backlash against high street chain Claire’s Accessories for appearing to copy designs by Tatty Devine.
In a blog on Tatty Devine’s website, the company points out the similarities between several of their own designs, and that of Claire’s, insinuating there’s some copycat fashion going on. They then asked readers to comment.
Known for its quirky and unique signature style, it’s clear that this range at Claire’s has more than strong similarities to Tatty Devine’s designs, but there are counterarguments to be considered.
Tatty Devine innovators Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine have previously offered tips on creating a Tatty Devine style, and even have a book offering their expertise. They seem to actively promote others mimicking their style when it comes to promotion and profit for the brand.
They also started their fashion line using everyday objects such as cake decorations and plectrums, which in fairness, are pre-designed objects.
Now that the brand has found commercial and critical success, they have strong views on other chains copying their designs and actively have pointed out when this has happened.
After the backlash on Twitter against Claire’s, a spokesman for the company said: “Claire’s is aware of the blog post on the tattydevine.com blog and is currently investigating these comments.”
The high street chain have previously been accused of allegedly copying independent artists. The company was criticised earlier this year for appearing to copy a necklace design from graphic designer Laura Figiel.
Anyone can see that this is indeed a grey area in law, as shops mimic both catwalk and other labels fashion in ranges every season. The trickle-down effect in fashion has been seen through the ages, it’s not a modern phenomenon.
There have even been instances among higher range designer brands. Last year, YSL was accused by French shoemaker Christian Louboutin of stealing the design of red soled shoes, which led to a New York Court decision that gave rival company Yves Saint Laurent permission to produce the same design – and not only that, but all other rivals, to copy the design. Last month the company appealed the decision in court. Can it be feasible to monopolise the market on the colour red?
The Independent has also previously reported on Jimmy Choo’s legal action against high street stores. Tamara Mellon, president of the company, targeted high street stores Warehouse, Oasis, Marks and Spencer, Jane Stilton, Shoe Studio and New Look and received payouts from the stores for their copycat designs.
The issue of counterfeit takes the matter onto a new level. Last July, Louis Viutton and Burberry won Canada’s largest trademark counterfeit and copyright case, awarded £1.63million in damages from Singga Enterprises Inc and Carnation Fashion Company who had both been selling fake handbags. Attempting to sell counterfeit or ‘knock-off’ goods are clear cases of infringement and less of a ‘grey’ area of law. Likewise, brand owners are more likely to ensure that they are financially compensated sufficiently following a successful prosecution in such cases.
The Tatty Devine scandal provokes some interesting questions concerning the industry.
You can sketch a great artwork but that doesn’t mean others will necessarily want to buy your version of it. So with more expensive designer ranges, are you paying for the brand or the design? Designers often cite quality as the justification for charging extortionate prices, so if it can be made available more cheaply, why shouldn’t people be able to afford the items? Some of the items available from Tatty Devine are affordable but others are removed from a more reasonably price range. As Claire’s predominantly cater to children and the teenage girl market, it could be argued that stopping lower-priced shops offering similar designs could send the message to young children that only brand names are worth owning.
Should you be able to protect a design that has no functionality or science behind it? It will be interesting to see how this story pans out.Tagged in: burberry, Claire’s Accessories, copyright, Harriet Vine, Jimmy Choo, Laura Figiel, Louboutin, Louis Viutton, Rosie Wolfenden, tatty devine, YSL
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