Are Brooklyn Fashion Designers Being Ripped Off by Urban Outfitters?

2010_05_ribcageripoff.jpg
Images via Racked.
Click to enlarge.
If you've never been, Urban Outfitters is basically like the Gap for hipsters (or people who want "that look"). And if you've never been, the Brooklyn Flea Market is a wonderful place for local designers to show off their wares! It is also, via The Brooklyn Paper, a wonderful place to steal ideas from if you work for Urban Outfitters!

Update: Urban Outfitters ripped something off from Tumblr user Glam-Trash. Yes, this is still happening in 2013.

Funny: Normally, the cheap version comes from outside the store. Like in Chinatown! Where you can dig up a fake Gucci easier than you can discern what's in your dumplings. But in Brooklyn, the cheap version starts at home, and moves its way into the stores. Like this!

Lillian Crowe, a 27-year-old jewelry designer in her first year of business, sells jewelry featuring a rib cage, a spine and the skull of a bull -- yet recently discovered shockingly similar knockoffs in the new Urban Outfitters catalog online. Crowe said she unveiled her designs last March. The release date of Urban's designs could not be confirmed, but it could not have been earlier than November, 2009, based on online comments.

To top it off, Crowe noticed three other designs that she said were similar to those of other designers. One was a shark jaw necklace -- on the market since fall 2008 -- by a designer who calls her line "Species by the Thousands."

Said designer then goes on to register her skepticism with the idea that Urban Outfitters "stole" the idea from her, but it's also then noted that Urban has a wholesale order of rings with her. So maybe you have to let the other team score a few on you to get your own? An Urban order is, after all, a big deal for a designer! They're huge and all over America, and kids who want "that look" shop there. That said, as shopping blog Racked points out:

You'll note a theme here: Bones and other macabre bits of nature are big right now, and ... it's hard to claim trademark on a design that's based on casting a found object. Both designers also note that copying runs rampant in the jewelry business, although the paper finds a third, anonymous source to argue that Urban has a particularly bad reputation as a ripoff artist.

That anonymous source isn't wrong.

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4 comments
markthearchitect
markthearchitect

PrivateVR's article link is excellent - if a bit lengthy. Skip to page 28 to get to the "answer" of design patents. 

I wonder how expensive the process is (but ran out of time to keep reading right now)

narlot1
narlot1

My midi rings originally posted summer 2012. 53942 views and over 1,000 sales, reposted by Lauren Conrad summer 2012. 


https://www.etsy.com/listing/105670378/chevron-hammered-brass-or-hammered?ref=pr_shop

Urban's midi rings posted sprin
g-summer 2013. 

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=27882620&parentid=SEARCH+RESULTS


Looks familiar?  I contacted urban's buyers early 2013 and gave them my etsy information, site, as well as several images of my work including my midi rings.  I was shopping at urban  summer 2013 and saw these rings in summer 2013.  Im very skeptical of where they get their designs.

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