Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sew or Sue?

Imitation may be the best form of flattery to some, but not until you see someone attempting to benefit financially from your hard work, research and development. You must read this article I found via Gala Darling.

In 2006 I started researching recycled fabrics and techniques. I started with a company that I admired called Project Alabama. The company's founder Natalie Chanin had since moved on to start Alabama Chanin.
( Alabama Chanin coat at left ).

Their style, although beautiful, is very southern, not really what I was looking for but the technique and how it is applied sold me on the spot. I developed my own patterns, stencils and artwork and brought the look to a whole new level. See the sweater and skirt with the skulls ( part of my most recent collection ).

My work was even mentioned on Alabama Chanin's website here.

I started with a basic t-shirt pattern and a skull stencil I developed. The skulls and rock n roll vibe are the essence of this line. The skulls I developed are definitive and I wanted them to be recognizable. Obviously, they were because not one, but two people have blatantly knocked them off.

The Jimi Hendrix t-shirt at left is the first of my rock n roll designs.

Then as time went on I decided to take vintage rock n roll tees and apply the same technique and rhinestone them. Same person blatantly knocked off that design and pattern too.

My question is now, where do you draw the line? The good news is I have a very good friend ( and business attorney ) Laurie Butler who can help me make that decision. Not many people are as lucky as I am.

So what would you do? Would you sue, or would let it go?

That is the question.


  1. Interesting. Wish I knew more details of your story. I'm going to be talking about the knocking off thing on this saturday's business of style post. It's pretty common and I've certainly experienced it every step of the way as a designer.

  2. I think it is a hideous, but fact of the creative industry. I'm inspired by others certainly, but as an artist and creator would never dream of imitating someone else' work so blatantly - it is not flattering really as much as it feels like outright theft. I feel for you and am sorry this has happened to you. Think of all the designers that get ripped off by stores like 4ever21 and then profit so much - they've been sued plenty I think, but seem to still produce knock offs faster than I can believe. Luckily we as creators can procure the right type of client loyalty where they only want and will pay for the real thing - that is what makes me keep up my chin and keep going.