This is Not Cool

Hey, you like this skirt?

How about this one? You like this one?

Oh, what? You think it’s the same skirt?

Yeah, so did I. That’s why earlier this week I emailed the lovely Loni at Love To Love You, to congratulate her for signing up with Modcloth.

Only apparently that’s not what happened.

I dealt with Loni back in mid 2010, when I spotted her amazing ruffle skirts. I’d never seen such a cute and innovative style before, and straight away commissioned her to make one to fit me. I knew she preferred to use natural – and if possible, vintage – fabrics (less impact on the environment), and that her skirts were often one of a kind. Which is why it probably should have rung alarm bells when I saw the “Stylish As Cancan Be” skirt on Modcloth was mass-made from acrylic fabrics.

Loni’s such a gentle soul that when I emailed her to tell her about the Modcloth skirt she said “Oh well, it’s sold out – at least that means I doing something right”. Her major concern was that it might have been made in a third world sweatshop. Yep. That’s right. The fact that she’d had her very original and recognisable design from which she makes her living stolen out from under her mattered less to her than the fact that someone might be getting paid unfair wages to produce a product she’d created.

Not cool.

On their website Modcloth states they have a commitment to original design; that “Our designers and suppliers guarantee that they have full legal ownership and copyright to their designs. When items are accused of being direct knockoffs, we investigate the allegation and remove the item from our site if we determine there has been a breach in contract.”

I’m hopeful that Modcloth has unwittingly bought this design from a less ethical third party, as their reputation for discovering and nurturing indie designers is legendary, but last I heard Loni was still waiting for a response.

Not cool at all.


ETA: Modcloth has now pulled the skirt from their website, so are presumably investigating their source. Credit to them for doing this – I wish all shops followed through as ethically in the case of plagiarism accusations.

8 thoughts on “This is Not Cool

  1. Good on you for pointing this out!!! That makes me so angry.
    I have been following your blog for years now and have seen you wear the royal blue Loni skirt and have always thought it was original and completely charming.
    I’d take original and completely charming over a McDonalds Burger any day.

  2. I’m reading this after the ETA has been added, so it seems ModCloth may take this issue seriously without further pressure. But I want to encourage you to wield this blog and your readers a bit more forcefully if you see something like this again. I imagine you starting an email writing campaign or petition could be quite effective.

  3. I’m glad they pulled the skirt because I love Modcloth and would hate to think they are doing something unethical. It’s so common to find businesses ripping off indie designers nowadays and most of them just respond by saying that’s how the business works.

  4. How horrible! And how wonderful of her to be worried about the workers that made the skirts over her own design being copied, though of course she shouldn’t have had to endure that… I hope ModCloth figures out a way to make this right.

  5. Good that you are reporting this. It’s outrageous. If ModCloth has been framed themselves by a third party, than kudos to them for taking it offline and investigating.
    Realistically, they probable have to trust the third-party at some level. It’s impossible to know every indie designer on the planet.

    So it boils down to how they react to this. The initial reaction is promising.
    As for Loni, let’s hope this gives her some extra exposure that makes up for it 🙂

  6. Those skirts look incredibly similar, and I hope Modcloth’s investigation gets to the bottom of it.

    However, I had a skirt that is a very similar design that I bought from a chainstore somewhere between 10-15 years ago. It was a skirt with exposed ruffle petticoat but had a buckled belt at top (similar to some of Love to Love You’s other designs, VERY similar to Tweedledee ruffle front skirt actually if you added a belt).

    One similar skirt might be able to be explained away, but if their other designs/patterns/fabric choices are also copies then that really is shameful.

    On another note, I found a tutorial a while ago which seemed to be a copy of the same skirt, and they mention they were inspired from etsy but didn’t have a direct link to the store. I really hate that, there is so much cross pollination on the internet but if you going to do a tutorial or remake something reference where you got it from!

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