So...I have been designing and making scarves for 4 years now and until now I have only had one previous run in with 'design theft'...I count myself lucky as most independent designers experience being ripped off/copied at least a few times in their career. That incident was harsh because it not only involved a company that I had been producing scarves for...but it involved them developing an idea we had discussed and going into scarf production themselves (cough...mass produced in china..cough). I had some good advice from a fellow knitter (who has had one of her designs ripped off by NEXT..among others) who told me 'being copied is the highest flattery' which makes sense and made me feel better!
Anyway...I'm dragging on, this post is about one particular scarf of mine...the pencil scarf (see below image) first designed and made by me in 2007. All my designs are special to me but this is a favourite, and I have made many more of these than any other scarf!
So... on Sunday I got this photo of my partner in craft Seleena with this H&M version of a knitted pencil scarf, and I was pretty horrified. Initially I was angry, then laughed it off (cos that's what I do) but it put me in a real mood, mostly because I feel that this design being on the high street somewhat de-values my product. I have spent hours designing and days making these scarves for someone else to find something on google images and send a sketch off to a factory somewhere to get thousands made(said H&M designer could have had this idea off the top of their head and if so, I apologise for de-valuing their creative thinking)! I know it's not identical and mine is MUCH hiogher quality...designer-made...lambswool..but, grrrrr all the same...oh, and the facial expression below is wrong...she should be looking angry, but I wanted to post this asap, no time for a re-shoot...
I know that dirty deeds such as this go on all the time in the 'industry' as I had a stint in the world of commercial fashion knitwear design during my University course. It was the blatant copying and lack of creative input that I experienced in that job that put me off going back to work in it and set up my own business. It seemes that setting up my own label was one of the few ways I could really be creative and work with knitted textiles. Having worked in t'industry means that I also know the 'how to copy stuff without getting into trouble' rules...'change 5 things and yr off the hook' apparently. I am angry about this design stealin' but even if I did have fat stacks 'o cash to try to sue H&M....they would have that up their sleeves!
On returning from the knitting conference in Shetland I was already feeling very anti mass production having learnt about the hand knitters that still work in Shetland and on Fair Isle and generally being surrounded by people who knit a high percentage of their own wardrobe. I had told myself I would be more considered about what I buy and make an effort to make clothes where time and skill allow it....but now I feel like never buying anything from a high st shop ever again! It hasn't put me off doing what I do though,if anything spurred me on...
If you are still reading, that means you probably share some of my views voiced here, if not and you just stumbled upon this and it held your attention, I hope it has made you think about/given an insight into the world of commercial design. If you want a simple,well designed, conscientiously produced winter cardi go here.
Happy Designing, Making and SELECTIVE Shopping!