Camden Town, where shoppers bustle for interesting, eccentric, or unique items; where the lanes sing with diversity and vibrancy, the voice of creativity rings to the rhythm of designer/makers trading their crafts ensures its place as a well-known creative hub.
Anti Copying In Design (ACID) member, Penny Burdett is one such designer. She specialises in handmade knitwear fashion, using a traditional knitting machine, which is no longer even manufactured. It is a skill and artform, slowly being lost to the giant of mass production. The technique allows her to create pieces of knitwear that are not easy to replicate on mass, which gives her designs individuality and originality. When Penny first started her business, she attempted to sell to large retailers, and their response was that it was easier to buy cheaper items from countries such as Taiwan and print designs like hers. The travesty in this mindset is not only for the designer, but consumers will lack all the beauty that comes with true design. Tactile materials, contours, and authentic textures of movement which a designer weaves into the fabric. Designers like Penny Burdett are the zeitgeist of tomorrow’s innovators.
Penny Burdett has been featured in a moving video about the richness of Camden Market called ‘The Last Gem in Camden’ by Aleisha Mowatt and Rachel Lechwar. The video celebrates designers such as Penny but there is an overarching fear depicted that profit seekers are pricing independent designer/makers, out of the historic and iconic place of quirky commerce.
Sadly, designers such as Penny are being priced out of Camden, and on a larger scale, the consumer market altogether. Authentic designers with their built-up skill, talent, and experience are having to pack up and sell off to larger entities who are a driving force for big profit and small consequences. These profits are gained from cheap labour and often copying designs from independent smaller designers. The consequence is loss of earnings and business to designers who invigorate and innovate our society. Sustainability is also a key issue and consequence which can’t be ignored. The types of companies that look for fast profit, also create fast fashion as corners must be cut for cheap production.
As times are becoming more economically difficult for so many, consumers will have no choice but to spend less. The impact on designers will be heavy. No longer will people have the means to buy quality, well-designed, built to last, therefore sustainable, items; Instead they will look towards products of inferior quality. The rate of design infringement is bound to rise, as more people give over to the fast and easy route of copying, barraging their way to financial success, leaving behind them the shattered and stolen dreams of designers. When designers are burdened under the weight of high business taxes, low income, and despondency to fighting for their IP rights, it is innovation which will suffer, and society will be all the worse off for it.
Penny Burdett, knitwear fashion designer, said, “I think they’re going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg if they do get rid of small businesses that are quirky or unusual. So, it depends whether they want jewels like me or they don’t because, you know, that’s their choice in the end.”
It is of paramount importance that independent and small designers are supported through these difficult times. They drive innovation and flourish our economy. They enable us to beautify our homes, ourselves, our lives, and even our planet. If you can’t buy from independent designers, then support them in other ways such as sharing them on social media. Adding your name in support of the Anti Copying In Design IP Charter promoting respect, ethics, and compliance for intellectual property is a strident first step to supporting talented designers like Penny whose DNA is creativity and originality. A united voice is a stronger voice.
You can view the ‘Last Gem in Camden’ video here.