The Problem of Copycat Fashion: Burberry Sues Target for Knockoff Designs

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It’s about time Burberry took a stand for their plaid.

How many of these signature checkered knockoffs have we seen in the market in the past decade alone? Target’s not the first bargain retailer to market a copycat design off a major design. Neither is Burberry the first brand to face this issue; big names like Chanel, Michael Kors, and Louis Vuitton are just some of the hundreds of designers that get their products ripped off every year. It’s not even luxury brands alone that suffer–popular amongst teenagers and young shoppers are online dupes off pricier labels like American Apparel, Brandy Melville, and Topshop. People want their clothes, and they want them cheaper and cheaper. If Target’s got a jacket or a skirt that looks just like the latest designer trend off the runway, shoppers will take what they can get. It’s just reality.

After the retailer put out these scarves imitating the luxury designer’s classic camel plaid pattern, Burberry sued Target for allegedly copying their more than 100-year-old iconic design. For the infringement of their trademark, which Target has also used on other items like water bottles and bags, they are demanding $2 million along with litigation fees. Burberry respectfully but firmly asks that Target cooperates with their attempts to protect their company’s designs.

Images via Business Insider – Burberry (Left) and Target (Right)

Take a look at these side by side. They’re pretty much identical. Only a slight alteration in coloring and print differentiates the two scarves. Although the Burberry design stands out as the original, with its richer hue and clean tartan pattern, the Target knockoff is a clear reproduction.

Some of the biggest trends of the season created by high-end designers have been shamelessly replicated by competitive, more affordable retailers. Take a look at these highly trending Gucci mules, for instance. These shoes revived the mule craze, and this is how the fashion industry thanks them.

Images via Wear Is

Another example is Rihanna’s PUMA x Fenty collection which debuted last year. Their enormously popular pink satin bow slides immediately found their way into Topshop under a copycat design, along with nearly every other bargain brand (Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, SheIn, you name it…)

Images via Topshop (Left) and PUMA (Right)

As much as companies like Burberry may fight for their products, earning copyrights for fashion is a long and strenuous process. Because fashion isn’t protected by the same legal rights as entertainment industries like film and music, they are far more subject to open replication by competing brands. Fashion has virtually no shield against copycats; legally, anyone can duplicate a famous trademark with very few consequences–hence the reason it happens so often in the market.

As consumers on a budget, however, it’s hard for us to conceive a world without knockoffs; how many times do we Google “dupes” for designer classics and brands that most of us couldn’t get our hands on within our finances? It’s just not conceivable for every fashion lover to splurge hundreds of dollars on a scarf or handbag every time they want to follow a trend.

Does that mean those of us on an average budget need to forgo high-end designs in order to become ethical shoppers? The question of quality becomes a major factor in deciding whether or not spending the money on a more expensive product is worth the value. Not always, but sometimes, trusted brands are pricey for a good reason. If you’re going to buy a cheap pair of knockoff heels or a copycat wallet that’ll wear out in a couple years anyway, it may be worth considering the investment in the original brand–for both yours and the company’s sake.

The conclusion: It might be wise to stay away from poorly constructed knockoffs if you have the budget for the real deal. Quality over quantity, my friends–always quality over quantity. By valuing the clothes you wear and shopping more thoughtfully, you’ll save both your wallet and your conscience in the long run. And even if they don’t know your name, Burberry will thank you.

Korean-born writer and student from Vancouver, Canada. Currently studying at Biola University and writing a novel. I like chunky ice cream in almost any flavor except cherry, banana, praline, and chocolate, Chicago mix popcorn, and ube-flavored anything. I have more pink in my wardrobe than Elle Woods and buy more lip products than I should. Active on IG as @theurbanroyal with daily style, life, travel and food inspo.

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