Unique Copy

by jennine on July 13, 2008

In college, one tutor told our class rather jokingly, “Good designers copy, great designers steal.” While in graphic design it’s somehow impossible to really do, copy someone, it’s an enormous problem in fashion. Even large luxury corporations suffer from counterfeits. Steve Madden steals from Christian Louboutin, Forever21 steals from Diane von Furstenburg, we all see it and recognize what’s going on blog about it and point our shameful fingers at them, then go buy their stuff anyway.

But what happens when small lesser known labels get ripped off by larger lesser known labels?

MissMalaprop writes about a long time favorite local (New Orleans) designer, Trashy Diva:

Trashy Diva is a very small, New Orleans based company that has been selling vintage style clothing for nearly 12 years. Designer and owner Candice Gwinn takes great pains to adapt and modernize vintage patterns and tweaks them so much that these styles are truly her own, vintage inspired designs.

One of her best-selling designs, the 1950s style halter top “Trixie” dress has been tweaked and perfected many times since it made its debut in a silk ballerina print in 2002. Gwinn released this dress in an affordable cotton version in 2007 and it has been an even bigger hit, with both her retail boutique and web customers and wholesale customers alike. Only one of those wholesale customers, Unique-Vintage.com has now taken it upon themselves to steal this dress design, have it manufactured in other colors (pastel yellow, baby pink and black with white polka dots) but using the exact pattern, and sell it as their own. When asked about this blatant theft, Unique-Vintage did not deny it.

The problem with this, aside from the whole ’stealing’ thing, is that even if there were a lawsuit, in the end the news would never make it to the consumer who would never know that her dress came at the expense of an independent designer.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Poochie July 14, 2008 at 4:34 am

This kind of theft is so despicable. I almost feel it’s one thing (although still bad) for a corporation to “mimic” another but to rip off a small designer or independant sucks.

I don’t think I could ever knowingly buy from the company, no matter how cute that dress is.



Imelda Matt July 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

it just never ends. We’ve almost been conditioned to accept this as the norm because we’re so accustomed to seeing this happen in reverse. It stinks when it happens to the independent!


Mallory July 14, 2008 at 5:55 am

Thanks so much for posting about this!

The sad thing is, yeah, it has become acceptable to so many people. I posted about this in a local New Orleans forum last night, just to let people know, and the first two comments I got were along the lines of “That’s just fashion, learn to live with it or get out.”

Just because things happen all of the time doesn’t mean they’re right and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to do something to stop them when you can. The world of fashion is also notorious for exploiting labor, including child labor, around the world. Does that mean we should just suck it up, say “these things happen, get over it?” No. We as consumers deserve the right to be informed, make decisions that are best for us and then live with our own conscience.


Ashe Mischief July 14, 2008 at 6:54 am

One of the bigger problems I have with this, is the confusion it causes in the customers. Having a customer come in to Trashy Diva wanting the knock-off print, being excited to think TD is coming out with new designs… it is despicable to trick your customers like that. And not labeling some of the TD designs on the website, too!


Ranna July 14, 2008 at 6:56 am

Thank you so much for posting about this, Jennine.
I’ve actually visited the unique-vintage website and seen those Thrashy Diva-copies many, many times without even realising that they’re not by Trashy Diva.

This actually annoys me almost as much as Dolce&Gabbana ripping off Marimekko.
I’m definitely not shopping at Unique Vintage ever again.


Elysia July 14, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Although I understand the original designer, happenings like this seem to be inevitable. There really is nothing to be done, other than to be flattered and move on. It’s unfortunate that people have to come to stealing.


Hailey July 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm

I like the originals best.


too bad, so sad July 29, 2008 at 8:14 pm

too bad that trashy diva does support child labor….her clothes are mass manufactured in CHINA, not in the USA like most independent labels.

also, just because they changed the halter straps to wider one on the trixie does not make the design theirs. everyone should know that the majority of the Trashy Diva line is an EXACT COPY…if you spend as much time as i do looking at 40s and 50s fashions, prints, and patterns then you can figure out where their sources come from.


Sam June 22, 2009 at 7:13 pm

@”too bad, so sad”

Even if there clothing was made in China, would that make theft okay?

>also, just because they changed the halter straps to wider one on the trixie does not make the design theirs.

Actually, it does make the design theirs. They do not sell vintage reproduction clothing, it is clothing BASED ON vintage styles.

I’ve never seen anyone defend theft quite like this? Do you happen to maybe work for the dishonest people doing this?


neoxib June 27, 2009 at 8:23 pm

yea man. pretty nice article. keep updating!

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