Is Urban Outfitters stealing designs? One jewelry designer thinks so.
It turns out the retailer -- which also owns Free People and the higher-priced Anthropologie -- may be cribbing designs from independent designers.
On Thursday (May 24), one jewelry designer was unpleasantly surprised to find necklaces bearing a striking (read: identical) resemblance to her own indie line of jewelry for sale at Urban Outfitters.
The designer, who goes only as "Stevie, sells her own wares on Etsy.com at prices hovering around the $50 mark. Thursday, she wrote on her Tumblr page:
The World/United States of Love line [of necklaces] that I created is one of the reasons that I was able to quit my full-time job. They even stole the item name as well as some of my copy. I'm very disappointed in Urban Outfitters. I know they have stolen designs from plenty of other artists. I understand that they are a business, but it's not cool to completely rip off an independent designer's work.
While Stevie calls her line "The World/United States of Love" line, Urban Outfitters is retailing an almost identical line of necklaces called "I heart destination." And they're selling them for much less -- $19 a piece. Note: as of this writing, the page still exists, but the item photo and description seem to have disappeared.
As Stevie pointed out, this isn't the first time Urban Outfitters has been accused of stealing designs. A May 2010 Village Voice article presents several other instances of UO allegedly ripping off designers of everything from jewelry to t-shirts.
Update: We asked public relations expert Peter Shankman for his thoughts on how Urban Outfitters might want to respond to Stevie's allegations.
"If the truth comes out that they in fact took this person's designs, an admission and immediate cease of sale would be a nice start," said Shankman.