SO Uncool, Anthropologie!

Romantic Hand Knits Cover

Large retailers are accused of stealing designs from independent artists and designers all the time, which doesn’t make me feel any better now that they’ve gone after one of my own (favorite) designs.

Recognize this skirt?  I fondly refer to it as my “Butt Skirt”, but it’s actually the featured design on the cover of my 2006 book, Romantic Hand Knits.

Anthropologie Skirt & MY Skirt

Recognize the skirt below?  It’s a not-very-well-copied rip off of my original skirt sold on the Anthropolgie website

(they call it the “Needled Paths Sweater Skirt”, I call it theft.)

Thanks to My Friend London for seeing it and pointing it out to me!

I based my design on a vintage 1950’s girdle silhouette.  It’s pretty clear what Anthropologie based their design on (my design!)

So what next?  Will Anthropologie offer me a full time job designing for them, or will they just work through Romantic Hand Knits item by item for their 2013 collection?


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In a totally unrelated story, if you click on the link to the left to check out my classes at Stitches West, you can help me win a prize.

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43 thoughts on “SO Uncool, Anthropologie!

  1. This makes me sad and mad! Were were just looking through RHK, the pictures alone are amazing. At least they could have put it on a great model!

    Where does Intellectual Property rights stand on this?

  2. Hi,
    I was reading Heatherly Walker’s (yarnyenta) post about your design being stolen. I am her mom and thought I would let you know we have a good friend that is a copywrite lawyer. Just in case you find yourself wanting one. This is horrid!

  3. I knew that they would do this bs at some point as I knew that their other company, Urban Outfitters has been doing it forever. I am so sorry that they did it to you. Not that I have ever spent much money there, but they get $0 from here on out.

    • You know, I’m not really that terribly upset, but I am SO irritated that they had to use the same color. It just shows such a lack of imagination and kind of a ‘thumb their nose’ attitude about the wholesale design rip off!

  4. At what point does “not very well copied” blend into “possibly inspired by”? They’re two cabled knit skirts. The silhouette is different, the stitches are different, the cables and their placement are different… it seems to me that designers take inspiration from many sources all the time, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen before, in some cases when I happened to know there was no possibility of the second designer having seen the first’s work. Don’t discount the possibility of coincidence.

    It happens in other fields too: for instance on a creative writing course, I once saw a classmate present a (much better) story that was strikingly similar in plot and theme to a story of mine that I hadn’t yet shared. No plagiarism at all: just a really weird coincidence. It happens. Life is odd.

    • They are so very similar. My thought, probably copied. Of course inspired, but did you notice that they even used a same style blouse with the skirt? I think it’s way too close to be a coincidence. Just sayin’

  5. I”m sorry to say this but….
    The two designs are nothing alike! They’re not even close. If they’d used a different color no one would’ve ever thought they were anything alike.
    I think… no… I *know* you’re pushing it if you say they’ve stolen your design.

    • Koen, look at the design more closely. Anthropologie is showing the FRONT and SIDE. The photo from the book shows the side and BACK. So look at the side, if you don’t have the book. they are virtually identical.

  6. Annie, can’t you do something about this? It’s more than a job or an apology they should be offering! Wrong, wrong, wrong…. to paraphrase Mr. Knightly, “Badly done, Anthropologie, badly done!”

  7. That’s a knock off and a damned cheap interpretation of your work. There oughta be a law to protect the small creative artist from this stuff. Can you get an attorney friend to send a cease and desist letter.

  8. Everytime I hear I story like this I repost it and boycott the company (all the while encouraging others to do so). We may not have a lot of voice but consumers hold the ultimate power. Strike another off my list.

  9. yeah, its a knock off–the fashion industry is famous for knock offs. BUT they only steal from the best–So congratulations!–Other designs (talentless ones who don’t deserve the name designer) are doing knock offs of your designs. YOU’VE MADE IT!

    (no one steals my designs. They hardly even knit them They download them from Ravelry, put them in their queue, but never get around to knitting them. I Long for the day when a big company does a knock off of one of my designs!)

  10. I feel for you Annie – it’s happened to me. Annie’s Attic published my ‘Shawler’ (the designer calls it Cuffed Cape) – but it wasn’t from me. Lots of people recognized it and sent me emails (I love the way our loyal customers look out for us designers!). Long story short, I contacted them and politely suggested perhaps a copyright infringement had occured, but they refused to remove it from their site. It’s definitely my well-known Shawler – it has the same design features, except she didn’t add the (optional) hood. It’s not a good feeling when you see your hard work being ripped off, but as disheartening as it is, they say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

  11. Koen: I’m not quite sure how you can say that those two designs are nothing alike. Even in a diff color, the pattern is nearly identical — right down to the distance between cables! I think you could place both pictures over each other on top of a light box and you’d be hard pressed to find differences. Just saying.

    I wish there was something you could do about it, Annie. I hope you take the previous poster up on her offer to seek legal counsel. 🙁

  12. I recently wrote my first pattern ever and noticed one that’s just different enough offered for sale this week. For a good price, too!

  13. “You know, the rule in this business is that any design must have a 30% variation from an original and the best part is that turnabout is fair play! Cheers!”

    No, that is not accurate at all! This “change X percentage and you’re in the clear” thing is a total myth and not to be relied upon.

    Annie, it might be time to call in the big guns and get RH’s lawyers on the case. They’ve got more money, let THEM spend it.

  14. Paula, I disagree with you completely. The Anthropologie skirt has ribbing at the bottom, Annie’s doesn’t. The Anthropologie skirt has a distinctly different waistband. Annie’s has lace insets near the hem; the Anthropologie one has a stitch that looks more like blackberry stitch. The Anthropologie skirt has a cable running up the center front and center back; Annie’s has a smooth panel running up the center front and back, flanked by cables. Those are just a few of the differences I noticed at a quick glance. The overall silhouette isn’t even the same, as Annie’s flares at the bottom and the Anthropologie one doesn’t. If the Anthropologie skirt had been shown in purple, no one would be claiming anything. I just read that orange is a very ‘in’ color right now, so surprise surprise that a major retailer would show a garment in it.

    Annie, this time I think you are really over-reacting.

      • With you 100%. The Anthropologie is a pencil skirt, with no flare. Sweater skisrts are in, so is orange. It is painful to have had a great idea for a design (of anything) that you think is the next best and most different thing and then find out you are actually behind the curve. I think emotions are clouding some judgements here.

  15. As much as it hurts to have this happen to you, it is totally legal. There is no copyright on clothing design in the US. That is why inexpensive knockoffs appear in stores just hours after a major designer has a fashion show. So take it as a compliment. One of your designs is so good it made it off the runway without even walking it. Congratulations!

    Besides, if someone wants to MAKE the skirt, they still have to purchase your pattern. Anthropologie isn’t selling that part.

  16. It’s possible their designer was inspired by you, but it’s equally possible that the two designs just happen to have cables that change angles. Other than that one detail, the skirts look very different: the silhouette is different, the length is different, the stitch patterns are different, the fit on a body is different, the cable placement is different. The color is similar, but it’s a popular color now … in fact, Tangerine is the official Pantone color of 2012. This looks like a coincidence to me. If you held them up overlapped on a light box, their differences would be very obvious. I think using the word “theft” in this instance is an overstatement.

  17. This just makes me sick. Hope you find a way to pursue a claim.

    They even photographed it just like yours, same shirt even. Shame, Shame, Shame. They’re on my boycut list now.

    • AnneLena, I think you’re mistaken. That’s understandable because it’s a bit misleading, even though it’s certainly unintentional (especially when you notice the caption), since the way the border is around the pictures makes it all look like a single screenshot.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the two skirts are all that much the same. The impression and shape of the two skirts are different, as are the hems, as is the color (orange vs. red). If you look at the skirt in charcoal gray, you don’t see any similarity whatsoever. Also, if you look at anthropologie’s website, they have a dress in the same orange with a similar dense cable design, so maybe they have a concept going.

  18. AnneLena, they photographed it on a mannequin with no shirt. There is a modeled pic on a young woman, but her shirt looks nothing like the one on Annie’s book model. Some of you are either very confused or very unobservant.

  19. Annie, you’re an extraordinary designer and, although I usually agree with your insightful commentary, I hesitate to see the breadth of similarities in the design. At first, I thought the center pic was from Anthropologie and was shocked. Then, I realized it was a side view of YOUR design. I actually visited the Anth website to get a closer look and they do have a pic of the skirt on a model (as well as a view in a grayish color as well). To me, it’s just not that similar. Your skirt shows a brilliant understanding of a woman’s anatomy as well as design lines that accentuate the curves and flow of feminine movement. Theirs looks like a thick Irish knit sweater with the sleeves cut off. The design “feel” and silhouette are very different to me. I’m sure each person will have their own take on it and we’ll all just have to agree to disagree. But one thing about this post that we can all agree on: Click on the Stitches West link so Annie can win her prize! (I just did. Good luck!)

  20. While I admire you as a designer, Annie, I must say I cannot agree with you on this. I can not see this as a rip-off. The designs are very different. (and further to your comment earlier, isn’t your skirt in the book red, not orange? – it shows up as red on my screen). If I saw the two skirts hanging alongside each other in a shop I would see them as two completely different designs with perhaps a similar shape. Besides the different panelling effects on the 2 skirts (I haven’t seen your pattern but it looks like the back has a central panel with cables down either side whereas the other has a cable down the centre of the back panel), the main difference for me are the side panels which you have incorprated into your design, giving the skirt a little flare at the bottom. The Anthropologie skirt doesn’t have that from what I can see in the photo’s.
    As you say yourself “I based my design on a vintage 1950′s girdle silhouette. It’s pretty clear what Anthropologie based their design on (my design!)” – and I think that if they have even seen your design then this is perhaps all they have done.

  21. You said you based yours on another design. Couldn’t Anthropologie have based theirs on the same design? And even if they did base it on yours, how is that any worse than what you did? It isn’t. Just as what you did is perfectly permitted so is what Anthropologie did. Clothing can’t be copyrighted. Heck, there is a whole Ravelry group devoted to copying Anthropologie designs. Besides, you and Athropologie are dealing with two completely different markets — your market is knitters who want to knit a cabled skirt, and Anthropologie’s market is people who want to purchase a commerically-knit cabled skirt. Frankly, Anthropologie just gave you a new market — people who see the skirt at Anthropologie and want to knit one for themselves.

  22. Omg. I tried this skirt on today. So glad they didn’t have my size. The whole time I was thinking – I could knit this. Little did I know. 😉
    They also had a sweater coat that I loved but I didn’t buy because it was so mass produced I could see the areas where it just didn’t look right. It would have bothered me every time someone asked if I knit it when I know I could do better.

  23. I think you should at least talk to a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property. That Anthropologie design is not just influenced by your design. As someone pointed out it is practically a photocopy. Probably you won’t be able to fight their deep pockets but you should at least see if it’s possible.

  24. Along the same lines…

    Check out the ottoman cover in the new Vogue Knitting. Then look at my Tunisian crochet ottoman cover in my 2009 book, Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting. A photo of it is on the back cover, which you can see on Amazon.

    Interesting. I know that similar ideas can be arrived at independently. I know that crocheting and knitting are not the same. I know one design can inspire another. But I don’t know what to think about this.

  25. Just a clarification. Anthropologie is a retailer. The company/label is “Sparrow”. I don’t know if this is sold only at Anthropologie or other places. So, if you believe the design to be knocked off, the Sparrow brand is the culprit.

  26. Annie, I absolutely love your work. Those two skirts are uneasily similar. Too close to call. While the paneling and cable placement scream ripoff the basic shape of.both skirts are different by far. Did they rip and modify your design? IMO it looks it to me. It’s the placement of those textured stitches near the hem and the way the lines trace a woman’s body on both skirts. It bugs me enough not to just write it off. On another note I’d like to thank you for your book and website that teaches how stitches are seated and the way I knit is OK. Knitting is my outlet and if I hadn’t come across your work I’d have given up. So thank you :). Sorry about this skirt business though.

  27. Come on now, those skirts look nothing alike. Besides, you even admit that your design was based off of another design. Hypocrisy, much?

  28. When I thought this had happened to me and pointed it out to the other party, I was told that I was “in touch with the zeitgeist”. I was just spitting fire! A few years on and I realise the two designs were similar but essentially different.
    Yours is a much more sophisticated design than the Anthro one. But I think you are still too close to the memory of design process and only see the similarities, not the differences.

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