Were you ever told off for being a copycat at school? Well I was, in fact I think its pretty human behaviour to have a little sneak at the A+ students’ test paper next to you.  But when it comes to the creative industry the line gets a LOT more blurry between being inspired by other designers and completely stealing peoples designs.  And recently Ive started to notice that there are a LOT of copycats out there. 

I have seen articles circulate recently around Facebook and Etsy about big fashion businesses stealing the designs and prints of small time designers, which seems to actually be well within the law due to the difficulty of copyrighting creative ideas.  Thats not to say that they would stop doing it if they were outside of the law, Im sure us small designers still wouldn’t stand a chance.  But its not NEW news to me that the fashion industry doesnt stick to any sort of moral code, and im not suprised in the slightest that the big time corperations are happy to step on us ants so to speak.

What DOES suprise me however is just how readily ‘we’ (ie small time businesses) are willing to do this to each other!  And its pretty fantasmagorical just how blatant this Copycat-ting can be…here are just a few obvious examples from Etsy: (original designs on the right)


This has been really bought to my attention recently in a particularly sticky Copycatting situation occuring between two of my favourite Etsy shops, one being a ‘featured seller’ I have bought from in the past with over 6000 sales, and the other being significantly smaller and less well known.  Cutting a long story short, it turns out that the ‘unnamed’ large shop has been stealing a large collection of the best selling designs from the lovely lady with the smaller and newer Etsy shop! And were not just talking about getting inspired and making a similar peice…were talking full blown replocation down to the smallest details, and multiple designs(I spotted at least 5 designs that were identical between the shops but Im sure there were more!), and listing them as her own unique creations.  Now that stinks of immorality to me.

And it’s not to say that I havnt been sorely tempted myself, to recreate beautiful garments seen in other peoples shops, I mean I get most of my inspiration from a small number of Sellers who I trowl through again and again enthrawled by their designs and colour choices.  But there IS a line, and I have never wanted to cross it…and if I get close then I do feel guilty….because humans have an innate ability to be empathic and ‘put ourselves in their shoes’, and I know that I would hate to be in that situation myself, with my hard work being ripped off and sold on as someone elses.

So this post is a homage to all us creative folk who know when enough is enough, and a reminder to us all (me included!) to think before we create, because I’ve seen first hand the pain and frustration that can be caused by the stealing of other peoples designs and its just not nice.  Im sure there must be enough creative energy out there for us all to come up with our own amazing ideas?  It certainly would make the world more interesting…and colourful!



Shades of Grey: the line between being inspired and just being a copycat


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