A while back Penney’s was accused by Irish designer Zoe Carol Wong of copying one of her designs from an old collection. As a store well-known for having pieces for sale bearing strong resemblance to other high-street stores I wasn’t surprised at this. However I was really disappointed that a store as big as Penneys would stoop so low.
So I’ve put off writing this post for sometime now because I know in my heart of hearts I’ll still go back and shop with Penneys again (Primark for those of you outside of Ireland). But I came across the original article again over the weekend and I was annoyed all over again so I decided it was only right to post about it – strength in numbers and all that.
I’m no stranger to Penneys and I have no issue admitted that I frequently shop there (student budget limiting my choices of shopping elsewhere!). There’s been many a time I’ve gone into Penneys and spotted a top or a dress that bore a strong resemblance to items I’d previously seen in the likes of Topshop or River Island. Again, admittedly I’ve gone ahead to purchase these items as cheaper without a thought of how this kind of thing impacts on the original designer. When I first read this article detailing how Zoe’s design had been copied by Penneys it got me thinking more about the effect that brands such as Penneys, copying other designers work has on the actual designer, whereas previously I had been focused on the savings I was making!
What really struck me about this particular situation was the fact that throughout the ordeal Zoe managed to remain calm and collected about the entire thing. At no point did she start ranting or raving about the injustice. Instead she used her platform to prompt others to think about the reason that pieces in stores such as Penneys are so cheap – something I’m definitely thinking more about now. It’s important to remember that while we as consumers want the cheapest deal, there’s still someone at the other end who has worked hard and put a little piece of them into their designs – and perhaps that is more important to focus on than getting the best deal. It’s not just bigger designers being ripped off, although they are generally the more identifiable ones, the impact that this copying of designs has on smaller designers such as Zoe is far greater than on larger designers.
Rather than acknowledging the similarities between their design and Zoe’s Penneys chose to take the route of denial. They stated that they were completely unaware of Zoe’s design and that they had not ever copied a design from another designer. However, looking at the two side-by-side here I personally find that difficult to believe…