Hell. No.New Clarification at Bottom of Post

A Vogue Designer earns 6% per pattern sold on their website. (6% is Vogue’s idea of “10% net”, which is the figure they dictated in a mass mailing to Designers earlier this year.)

By comparison, Interweave pays between 20-50% (which would be $1.80 – $3 on a pattern which retails for $6) Interweave pays their designers on a sliding scale*

Interweave sends out clear quarterly statements outlining how many patterns have sold, what they retailed for and what percentage was paid to the designer. Vogue just sent me this:

Seeing the actual check (which I intend to frame for it’s comedy value) which accompanied the letter from Vogue relit my fire.

Folks, it is damned hard to earn a living at this. While the prez of Soho flies down to the Bahamas to pick up his yacht, I head to Goodwill to get school clothes for the kids.

Here’s a table that breaks down the % on a pattern that retails for $6

The facts bear repeating: Interweave Knits pays between 20% – 50% of the retail price of a pattern, Vogue pays 6%.

IK’s more fair policy in paying designers for internet sales didn’t just happen. I am proud to say that I had a hand in it.

At first IK offered a much smaller amount. Through commentary on my blog and other designer outcry, Interweave was wise and far-sighted enough to sit down and discuss a sliding scale which is much more fair in terms of payment.

Vogue won’t even discuss their policy, end of story.


Professional photographers and graphic artists have a guild
– we need one, too!

And we need to let Vogue know that this is not acceptable.

When I submitted my designs to Vogue and signed my initial contracts, I certainly never intended to give Soho Publishing the full rights to sell my patterns online and only pay me 6% of each sale. I’m certain no one else did, either. Heck, online sales weren’t even on the radar at that time!

I’ve vowed not to design for them until this policy is changed (and let’s be honest, if it ever does change there’s not much chance they’d use my designs again…) But as long as I’m out, I can be as loud as I want!

If you’re a designer, I urge you to LET VOGUE KNOW that you will not be designing for them as long as they keep this very hurtful-to-designers policy in place.

Ask yourself: Would there be a Vogue Knitting without designers? Hardly.

Then ask: Is there a marketplace for handknit designers work outside of Vogue Knitting? Definitely.

Folks, we CAN change this if we work together. Who’s with me?

If you’re not a designer, if you’re a consumer, I’m not asking for a boycott of Vogue. But I do think it would be beneficial (and the right thing to do) to write to Vogue and tell them that as a consumer you are unhappy with their policy.

Please read my earlier posts (Unionizing, Interweave Knits & Vogue) on this for background on this story. I’m sick to death of repeating the scenario over and over, and I’m a little angry at my own sorry self for allowing myself to be quieted by nasty comments about how terrible it would be to unionize knit designers.

Terrible or not (and it wouldn’t be) I see no other way to begin to treat ourselves with the respect we would like others to show to Hand Knit and Crochet Designers. I’m not doing this for butter-and-egg money, this is my MORTGAGE, and I’m not alone.

[Union Rant Warning]
Well, hear this. If you like a 5 day work week, 8-hour work day, paid vacation, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and the family medical leave act (not to mention child labor laws) then you can thank a union member.

No entity is perfect, and I’ve done my share of grumbling at what seem to be imperfect union rules and policies. But overall a worker has NO voice if we do not band together, and the standard of living of the average working class American (union member or not) has steadily declined as union membership has declined in the 80’s and 90’s.

An insidious campaign of disinformation about exactly what unions do, and how they’ve changed America for GOOD, has been in place since the early 80’s. Each of you has felt it’s sting in the steady lowering of wages, working conditions and benefits, whether you realize it or not.

Hand knit designers are no different. We earn essentially the same amount as we did in the 1980’s for a published design in Vogue Knitting.

I’m writing this in my third cousin’s driveway – internet on the road is hard to find! I wanted to clarify a point that Jolene brought up in the comments.

To clarify: The 6% fee that I’m so miffed about is on top of the initial design fee. The 6% is not the only amount that the designer is paid.

I thought I had been clear about that (I’ve definitely gone over that many times in previous posts on this issue) and I didn’t mean to imply that the 6% was the only bit of money a designer sees from a garment. That would be unbelievable.

But, as I stated in my above post:

A Vogue Designer earns 6% per pattern sold on their website. (6% is Vogue’s idea of “10% net”, which is the figure they dictated in a mass mailing to Designers earlier this year.)

The fee VK pays is in line with, but slightly less than, Interweave’s fee range. In my case, the VK scale seems to run between $100 for a small item to $500 for a large item. (as a reference point, I received $500 for the Twisted Float Cocoon that was
on the cover of the Fall ’05 issue, the high end of my payscale from Vogue. If you’re interested, here’s a pdf file of what I’ve designed for Vogue and how much the fee was for each piece.)

This is just slightly more than the scale that was in place when I designed for Vogue back in the mid 80’s. I remember one designer receiving $800 for a three piece outfit at that time.

Personally, I feel theses fees are small for the amount of work that goes into a design (up to 3 weeks for a larger piece) But that’s a different blog post.

What the above post is about are patterns that have already been published in Vogue, and are being resold online. In Vogue’s case, 6% of the fee is going to the designers, I don’t think that’s fair.

When I signed my contracts with Vogue in the 80’s and again in the early 2000’s, the idea of reselling patterns online wasn’t on anyone’s radar. It certainly wasn’t on mine, which is perhaps a mistake on my part. (However, greater minds that mine are running into this same issue of intellectual property being resold with scant percentages being paid to the intial author / designer.)

The fact that Vogue offers only 6% per pattern sale, AND won’t discuss the issue with designers** is the source of most of my anger.

As far as fee fairness, if you compare what a hand knit designer gets for a piece compared to what the photographer receives for shooting that same piece (and which the photographer deserves!) the difference is alarming. I don’t have hard facts on this, just anectdotal information from photographers and other designers, but from what I can glean a photographer earns about three times what the designer earns.

As I said, the photographer deserves it, but when you break down a $500 fee for a hand knit garment into the time it takes to design, create and write the pattern for the piece, we’re talking McDonald’s hourly wages.

*In full disclosure, I currently earn 40% on each pattern sold at Interweave Knit’s website. IK’s sliding scale is based on how many other venues carry the pattern online, and whether the designer has a link to the IK pattern store at their website. The link to the right for my cocoon crochet shrug earns me a cool 10% additional on each pattern of mine IK sells.

**or, Vogue wouldn’t at the time of the announcement in Feb 2009. I’ve just received an email from David at Soho asking me to call him. I’m hoping this will be the start of a discussion about percentages of pattern sale fees paid to designers, and how to raise it to a more fair level.

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