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Sourcing and Copyright aka Here We Go Again

December 17, 2010

Photos via

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own and have nothing to do with my affiliation with any of the work I do or whom I’m affiliated with.

If you follow me on twitter you probably saw me refer to this post . The owner of the blog brings up a piece that looked just like a piece from Forever21 on Modcloth. Refer to the above the Louboutin Black Shoe was copied by F21 in red and the Balenciaga was also copied. As well you see a Privee copy of the that dress above.

The bottom line is designers copy each other. It can look exactly the same, but the materials have to be different people. Look at what it’s made out of. While on her blog everyone was saying the “cut” and “fabric” were the same, but sadly in the US F21 would have lost a lot of court cases it that were the case.

Manufacturers must change the garment at least 30% to get a way with it. Which usually means they source different materials. What could be 100% modal on one site may be 100% cotton on another hence changing the prices.  Now if you read my blog you know that I work for one of the wholesalers so I know that I work for a re-seller and all opinions here are not associated with the company, but out comprised from information that I do know so take from it what you will and may the legal gods not fall upon me.

I know for a fact that one Modcloth does use wholesalers and does use suggested retail. Hence the high price. As well Modcloth can not work out deals with designers like Forever21 can. Forever21 buys in bulk and has multiple places to sell online only stores only have one outlet. Now if you read Modcloth’s reply on that blog what they say is accurate as for what the designers told them well they don’t have control over that, but let’s get on with this.


It’s basically what you do when you begin manufacturing your own line. You go through a lot to find a manufacturer. There is researching, sampling, estimating, prototyping, manufacturing, domestic clothing sourcing, import costs, and finishing. All of these have to be figured out before you can start.

Also, did you know that most manufacturers have a minimum order and guess what boys and gals China’s cost are rising. Why? Read this article here, but basically it covers that fabric costs and labor on the rise meaning to stay on top the production side needs to raise costs. Err I can hear the screams now. Inflation isn’t anything new and if you really though clothing was going to stay cheap forever think not. Why do you think most companies don’t do american made products? because the costs are increasingly higher and higher each year and we pay for taxes that other countries don’t charge so you have that.

Now you can wine and bitch about the price, but really it doesn’t suit a company well to charge 90% off a garment when mark-up average is 330%. The costs of the garments helps pay for people’s jobs like mine, the warehouse workers, designers,  the customer service reps, the factory workers in China.

Sure you may complain about the Chinese workers not getting paid well, but honestly there are ethics and then there is business for business to give you the pricing you want there has to be a compromise and usually someone suffers for it. So while you’re cozying on up in your down coat think of all the work that went into that and if the quality is good you should be willing to pay a full price.

I’m not saying pay $90 for a 100% cotton tee that Old Navy sells for 12 bucks I’m just saying shop wisely and check quality. The fabric and stitching all matter and you get what you pay for is not always true in clothing. Honestly if you want to be a smart shopper look into materials and manufacturing of garments that will help you decide if you want F21 or Gucci because I bet you anything the Gucci will last you 10 years and the F21 maybe a week.

Also, F21 has a high order volume that pushes costs down hence why you can see them selling something that looks like something way more expensive for 9 dollars. It’s just how the cookie crumbles.


Once you do sourcing chances are you will have to look up the legalities. I found out the other day that you there are laws you have to abide by when making hoodies because they can be a choking hazard. I also know that you must have re-sellers permits and manufacturing permits in place.

You also will need to check the rules and regulations on importing and exporting goods  and a lot of other paper work that is often expensive set up before you can even begin selling your own line. This one is short because I will talk about this again in a different post at another time since papers are dependent on what you are selling and how your company is structured.


As for the blog stating that jewelry and shoes were from other brands and F21 just re-labels them. Well if F21 paid for it they can as I am sure some companies are fine with doing just that, but there have been stories in the past of companies finding shoe companies and jewelry manufacturers in China that work on certain brands and paying them a lot of money to produce re-productions.

I think you know this happens with iPods all the time on eBay (They get away with copying the design, but they have no rights to the software) funny how that happens in foreign countries. There also have been issues of companies suing other companies because they lose their manufacture to the copy cat. 😦 boo it sucks, but it’s nothing new.

This brings to light the new legislation which was pulled from here:

Proposed Design Piracy Law Moves Forward

December 01, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted a version of the proposed law to protect fashion design on Dec. 1.

Senate Bill 3728, known as the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), was introduced last August by Sen. Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.). The current version of the proposed law, which seeks to extend copyright protection to fashion designs, has been revised from its earlier version, the never-enacted Design Piracy Protection Act (DPPA).

The proposed law has drawn a sharp divide between opponents, which include the California Fashion Association, and proponents, including the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The America Apparel and Footwear Association opposed the earlier version of the proposed law, but after working with lawmakers on several key issues, now supports the measure.

At the committee meeting, an amendment to the IDPPPA was proposed which would require the losing party to pay all legal fees, but the committee adopted S.B. 3728 without the amendment, according to CFA President Ilse Metchek.

“The loser-pays amendment alternative was a huge step in a direction we want to go,” said Metchek, who added, “In a way, I’m glad it passed without the amendment. Now, we can go forward with a total objection to the law.”

The bill will now go to the floor for a vote, although it is unclear whether the senate will vote on it before the December recess.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for hearing on the matter, and other Judiciary Committee members indicated they were “amenable” to it, according to the AAFA’s Kurt Courtney.

Metchek said if hearings are held on the matter “We will be there,” and promised “a full-court press to get the bill off the table.”

But Courtney said there’s disagreement in the industry over the concept of the legislation rather than the content of the proposed bill.

“I think people are a lot more in agreement than they think,” he said. “This bill really draws the line between inspiration and copying. We all understand the importance of inspiration in design, most of which comes from articles found in the public domain. The bill seeks to protect that original artwork in fashion, not the utilitarian parts. This is specifically targeted at the most original artistic fashion that has never been seen before.”–Alison A. Nieder

Now this law wouldn’t be needed if there weren’t a huge issue with copyright. Now onto the next…


Now companies like F21 have a low turn around time whereas wholesalers like the one I work for or even Hellz is working on their Fall 2011  lines a year in advance and this means that Tradeshows and fashion shows in February/March will actually be seeing the Fall and Holiday collections. If fast fashion houses can get a hold of the designs from anyone before those designs hit the stores in 3-4 months they have enough time to make a copy and get it out to their stores way faster than the original can.

Also, I will say I have seen people make copied designs from Forever21 as well so let’s not be hypocrites here it’s just common knowledge or should be. On one more note brands UO, Free People, Anthropologie are all under one corporation so if you bring up copied designs from them, well, your basically just saying they are stealing from themselves.

Final Note:

Don’t blame re-sellers blame the wholesalers if you will, but honestly don’t judge too harshly there is a ton going on here that even this blog doesn’t have enough time to talk about, but I wanted to get it out because I thought maybe it will help. Before you criticize something you should perhaps go behind the scenes and learn it first.

If you have any questions or input please feel free to ask. I source a lot of my information from new’s stories I have read or people I know. Remember I do marketing so most of my time is spent looking at numbers and researching until my eyes bleed so I may not always site a source, but I will if I can.




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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 18, 2010 6:23 pm

    Fantastic post, darling!
    Love all the intellectual property expertise.
    You and I should open a Fashion Law firm!


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