Global retailer COS (owned by H & M) recently engaged in alternative dispute resolution in the form of a mediation with ACID member and fashion designer Jess Linklater of Robe de Voyage. Despite COS not admitting liability, Linklater is content with the settlement. A strict condition of the mediation agreement was that the terms of settlement remain confidential.
Linklater, whose glamourous designs have featured in countless celebrity gigs, was horrified to discover from design colleagues that COS were selling a virtually identical design to her original “Scribble” signature range of luxury wear. Not only were the lookalikes made in inferior material, but they were for sale globally. Over 2000 posts on social media indicated the outrage of fellow designers everywhere, showing how easily recognisable the alleged replication was. Even some of COS’s ex-employee designers actually wrote to her sharing their disdain for what appeared to be such blatant copying.
Dids Macdonald, OBE., Chief Executive of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) & Vice Chair of the Alliance for Intellectual Property said, “Typically, in high street settlements and in all mediations, the terms and conditions of settlement are confidential, so my hands are tied in terms of commenting on this particular case, but what I can talk about is copying trends in general, by some major high street retailers. Designers like Linklater provide the zeitgeist that breathes life into new, vibrant and exciting designs. Producing cheap lookalikes is a sanitised word for theft and usually happens on a massive scale. However, the tide is turning as designers are getting angrier. They do not have the deep legal pockets to fight the behemoths in Court so all they have in their armoury is to go for reputational damage through social media. Only recently Swoon had to pay a substantial sum to designer Simone Brewster together with an apology. ACID’s fight will continue to hold all those responsible to account.”
Jess Linklater of Robe de Voyage said, “This has been an enormously stressful time for me seeing the results of years of work being peddled globally and I am happy to put this sad affair behind me. What I am so excited about is my new collection which is just about to be launched and my message to anyone out there who considers copying is quite simple, don’t!”
ACID’s campaign “Fakes are Never in Fashion” will be launched soon and invites all designers to join us, stand united and to spread the word.