A Canadian clothing brand is opening up about a recent experience with alleged design theft.
Granted Sweater Co., a premium sweater retailer based out of Vancouver, took to Instagram to draw attention to their handcrafted items, which they say were ripped off by luxury fashion brand Dsquared2.
"My colleague was actually shopping in a mall in Japan. When he visited the Dsquared2 shop, he noticed there was a sweater similar to a Granted design and sent it over," Brian Hirano, Creative Director of Granted Sweater Co. told Yahoo Canada. "From there I did a bit of research and found out there were more designs available online that were also copies."
Hirano said that two of the company's designs, the company's bear axe and campfire bear, were duplicated. Hirano also added that both designs have been with the brand "for more than 10 years." Although it's unclear, Dsquared2 seemingly released their items as part of the Fall/Winter 2021 collection.
Yahoo Canada has reached out to Dsquared2 for comment.
"As an independent brand we take pride in designing our patterns from the ground up, choosing colours, utilizing current inspirations, sourcing local supplies and producing items from design to finished product," the company wrote on Instagram. "This process has many layers and with the cooperation of many hands and various departments working unison, in the end we produce an amazing locally hand knit garment."
The company further said that the alleged copies "overlook" the authentic and creative nature of the design process.
"Sadly, the appreciation and respect of this process is often overlooked in our industry and many independent designers are being ripped off by other, larger brands with blatant copies. Even our designs have been replicated in the past by fast a fashion brand," the brand continued, referring to a 2017 incident where Granted Sweater Co. claimed Forever 21 "stole" their designs.
"Maintaining our designs are our livelihood and vital to the survival of our brand. All independent makers and designers deserve the respect that goes into make their artworks and we cannot afford to let these copycats get away with their dishonest business practices and must be held accountable," the company added.
Hirano says he is "worried" that this incident will impact their operations and ideation.
"It makes you worry that this 'cut and paste' system still prominent in fast fashion as most know but also happening with these luxury brand designers as well," he said.
Hirano said that they have "sent out a cease and desist order to this brand but have been ignored several times."
"We’ve been told it is difficult and costly and sometimes pointless to pursue brands overseas for their accountability," he explained. "We are definitely not looking for a payout, rather some acknowledgement and possibly an apology."
Hirano said he doesn't "think there is a way to prevent this from happening."
"You just need to just have eyes on the ground and have people informing you if your designs are copied," he said. "It happens far too often and I think it's important that the public understands what goes on in our industry," he said.
Hirano also said that other independent designers should take action to limit the potential of design theft.
"Copyright your designs and register them in the database. Have dated record and details of when you made each design so you can prove that you in fact made the design," he suggested.
In the comments of the brand's Instagram post, fans thanked Granted Sweater Co. for drawing attention to how often design theft happens in the fashion industry.
"Thank you for making us aware that this happens...educating people is the best thing you can do right now," commented a follower.
"I think keeping the issue alive on social media may help in the absence of legal progress," shared someone else.
"Good for you for speaking up! Sadly this happens way too often!" added another.