When I started out in the fashion business in the 1960’s I thought I would make my mark quickly. I figured with all the ideas I had people would come running with accolades but of course they didn’t. As an assistant designer you basically make a lot of patterns, cut samples and stay quiet. People are not interested in your ideas nor do they care, so you quickly figure out that you are there to learn.
I have told the story once before how they laughed when I created a one piece snowsuit that had a mid zipper so it could also be worn as a jacket. Then they laughed again when they saw the five different infant fleece sets I created. That is when I decided I had to go out on my own to make my mark. Six months later I saw those same designs featured in the Canadian Simpson Sears catalog and they ended up trade marking the snowsuit. The snowsuit made them a fortune and the idea evolved into new styling of active wear done by other companies. Those are the breaks as they say.
When I opened my store I designed 90% of the clothing and the other 10% I purchased. I watched popular jean companies I bought from buy sample clothing from Europe and copy it. It seemed and still seems to be the norm in the apparel business. The designer would design a few creations but basically he or she would produce copies of the purchased samples for their lines. Knock it off and private label it as they say, because clothing companies do not use intellectual property protections. Just like the writing business, people want your creative ideas and words but generally do not want to pay for them.
I designed everything from dresses to active wear, right down to my own jewelry line. I had a deal with a jewelry company - they would produce pieces for my store in small amounts as long as they could sell them in their lines. I figured that was terrific not realizing the money they were making off of my designs.
Etsy is one of the best places online to find one of kind handmade things. Many talented designers go on there to sell their unique wares and are now running into problems. Companies such as Urban Outfitters are looking at their designs and doing the Hoboken Hustle with them.
The knock off world is now flooded with imported fake Chanel bags and Tiffany jewelry but for a US Company to do this is a travesty to me. Urban Outfitters is being accused of knocking off everything from jewelry to sock monkeys being found on Etsy. Would it not be a better idea to maybe pay the designers royalties for their product or have them design a line for them?
Just last week they were allegedly caught pilfering another design from Etsy but the designer that complained actually created her piece someone else's design. Urban Outfitters issued a statement saying there were many similar products on the site and not to point the finger at them. It does not matter to me if there were others since they still have a track record of helping themselves and that crime should never be copied anywhere.
While I researched this article and browsed on Etsy I found this “Pimple Popping Ring” designed by Etsy's artbywinona. It's made from sterling silver, copper, enamel, and freshwater pearl and retails for $163. So I sit here and realize if anyone copies this ring it is going to be pretty easy to trace back. Then I wonder if she got the idea from the new iPhone app by Room Candy called the Pimple Popper.
Who is copying who?
Images and text by Linda Seccaspina
Linda can no longer draw snowsuit
Image of Pimple Popper ring by Etsy's artbywinona
Picture of Linda and her boss Saul Cohen from Fine Togs in Montreal- 1967
She was later headhunted to work at Kiddie Togs