What to Read Next

Did Claire's Accessories rip off Tatty Devine?

24 February 2012

Tatty Devine, the British "art jewellery" label beloved by Katy Perry, Beth Ditto and Björk published a blogpost entitled Can You Spot the Difference? on Thursday. The post showed compare-and-contrast photos of pieces from its collection, which it believed had been copied by budget high-street chain Claire's Accessories. The brand then tweeted the blogpost to its 13,000 followers.

Within hours, the David-and-Goliath story had inspired a social media storm: Claire's Accessories was trending around the world on Twitter, the Tatty Devine website had crashed and people were taking to the Claire's Facebook page to complain (posts that have since been allegedly removed by Claire's). @lupalupine said "Disgusted how @ClairesStores Claire's Accessories is blatently ripping off @tattydevine 's designs. Be ashamed of yourselves. *Boycott*"

Claire's then compounded the PR disaster by refusing to Tweet or comment on the situation, maintaining silence on all its social networking platforms, which only increased the intensity of the anger.

@hannahlpearson tweeted: "You should be ashamed Claire's Accessories, if not for the blatant rip off of @tattydevine then of your ignorance on social media #epicfail".

Claire's released a statement yesterday afternoon that simply said: "Claire's is aware of the blog post yesterday on the tattydevine.com blog and is currently investigating these comments."

Rosie Wolfenden, one of Tatty Devine's two owner/directors told Guardian Fashion that they were feeling "a lot of love" since the copycat storm broke.

"Tatty have blogged before on this subject. We feel this is the best way to deal with copycats, as it puts the issue in the public domain and lets customers decide."

She points out the damage done by cheap knock-offs of their pieces, which are all completely original and handmade at the label's London studio.

"Our dinosaur piece [that Claire's copied], was inspired by a visit to the Natural History Museum and a sketch by Harriet. It involves around 50 Perspex bones that are all individually laser-cut and drilled, which takes a lot of concentration and time. Hence its price tag of £132." (Claire's were selling their pink rubberized copy of the piece for £4, but they have recently removed it from their website.) She added: "What's the impetus for small brands to start up if people can just take away their ideas?"

The furore demonstrates the peril of retail brands being behind the times when it comes to engaging with social media. It also asks questions about the widespread practice of copy-catting in the fashion industry, a grey area in terms of the actual legislation. That high-street retailers are often "inspired" by catwalk designs is something we are all aware of. It is much bandied about in the fashion industry that one can avoid being sued for "passing off" by including seven points of difference, but in practice, design theft is hard to police.

What can designers do to protect their ideas? Design registering with the UK Intellectual Property Office as Tatty Devine has done, is one option, which allows the holder to take legal action against any infringers – but for smaller labels and independent designers, the costs involved could make a lawsuit against a huge international retail giant impossible.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Save up to 10% when you combine your auto and home insurance. Get a free quote and start saving today.

Your Frozen Fan Won't Want to Let it Go

Find Elsa, Olaf, and all your favorite Frozen characters on Campbell's soup cans in a store near you!

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Heartburn Facts

Read About Heartburn Facts From TUMS. Check Out Heartburn History, Who Gets Heartburn and More.

Time is Running Out

Just 9 days remain to enter for a shot at $5,000 A Week “Forever.”

Bring Home This Heart-Warming Disney Movie Offer!

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Exclusive Titles, Merchandise, Offers & Discounts. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

Great Valentine's Day Gift Ideas at Macy's

For him or for her, say everything you need to say this Valentine's Day with the perfect gift from Macy's. Shop and save now!

The Platinum Card®

Earn Premium Travel Rewards With Your American Express® Card. Apply!

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Medicare Supplement Plan F is the most popular plan option, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Mazda USA - 2016 Mazda6

Build a MAZDA6 online & search your local dealer's MAZDA6 inventory.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!