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Unless you've been living under a rock (or don't have a Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr) you won't have been able avoid the drama that has been happening in the high street fashion industry. Big name brands have recently came under fire from the media and the general public over claims of copying and outright stealing ideas from small indie businesses and as a major supporter and lover of many small companies, I thought I'd post my thoughts on this. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen a mini rant I had about this whole debacle and how I 100% do not agree with it or support it. The controversy seems to have started when a well known and respected albeit small indie brand, Tuesday Bassen addressed Zara over the fact that they had blatantly plagiarised some of her patch and pin designs and added them to their own clothing range. This wasn't a "we were inspired by Tuesday Bassen" or a "we held out an olive branch to work with Tuesday Bassen" move, it was a plain and simple copy and steal agenda. When Tuesday Bassen contacted Zara to ask about this, they simply replied stating that the similarities between her work and their knock-off second-rate copies was not obvious/noticeable enough and quite frankly, they are a bigger brand with a bigger audience so it would be a losing battle for Bassen to take it any further.

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Now it's pretty obvious I don't agree with what they've did. It's also pretty obvious that they know they're at fault but of course like they've said, they know they will still receive plenty of custom and you know what? I'm going to be completely honest with you, if I see something in Zara that I like, I'm still going to buy it. However, the fact that the company did this in the first place and then had the audacity to so blatantly deny it and show how terrible and unprofessional their customer service is has made me hesitant about being a regular customer there. The support this particular instance has received is overwhelming and extremely positive and encouraging to see. It's fantastic to see so many people out there care a great deal about smaller, independent brands and want to celebrate their work.

I think one of the biggest issues for me is a consumer is not only is the money not going to the deserving, rightful person who created the item you are purchasing, but you're also paying for a shoddy copy. Of course it's true what Zara said - they do have a bigger market however a bigger market = mass production. Looking at the patches they copied in comparison to the original real deals, you can see the craftsmanship is just not up to par with those that the indie brands reflect. It's also important to bear in mind that this hasn't just happened with Zara and Tuesday Bassen; it has happened between Zara and up to 20 other artists. Felow pin theft victim, Adam J. Kurtz, has made a site dedicated to all the artists Zara have ripped off. Shop Art Theft is collating and documenting all of the ideas and designs Zara has plagiarised in one place so people can see just how serious and unacceptable this problem is. Every design is from a small indie designer and therefore has not been a mistake on Zara's part but has been a calculated and lazy way to collect ideas and produce them as their own. Rightfully, Zara is coming under a lot of fire from this but brands such as River Island and Forever 21 have also copied items in the past and a favourite small company of mine, Maiden Voyage Co., discovered that Bershka (which just so happens to be a sister company to Zara - both of which are owned by the same umbrella firm... riddle me that) had stolen one of their patch ideas too, just altering it enough for it to not be classed as copying.

#boycottzaraBoycott Brands Copying

This is happening an awful lot at the moment and it's all for 5 seconds of fashion fame. Patches and pins seem to be making a big breakthrough/comeback at the moment which personally I think is awesome - I don't know if you can tell, but I've been a huge fan of collecting pins and patches for quite a while now and the fact that it's now a "fashionable" thing is great for people like me. But this also means it's a fad that will die out as soon as something else comes along. I absolutely love high street fashion and although I have signature *looks* and items of clothing I tend to go for, I also love dabbling in the ever changing world of season "must haves" and "on trend/key pieces" but these trends don't last forever and within as little as a matter of weeks they can be replaced by the next big thing to sweep high street style. It's easy to look at what these stores are doing and think that it's no different to what they do with designers. And you know what? You're right. I myself have just recently bought a pair of Asos shoes because they look like a Gucci pair I will never be able to afford, but there's a major difference between designer-inspired items and stealing from small businesses... Money.

Designer-inspired or knock-off versions of high end fashion is readily accepted as it is making something accessible to the general public who don't have £400+ to spare on a single pair of shoes. The designers who are copied and inspire high street pieces are the trend setters - they're the ones who decide what is going to be popular this month or season and that's why so many stores follow their example. Designers of these items and trends know that for consumers to get the best quality and the best materials that means their items will last a customer a lifetime, they have to buy directly because the high street equivalent isn't the best quality. Small businesses being copied though? It's a completely different kettle of fish. They have a niche market. They produce one off, unique to the designer and creator pieces which can't be replicated. They're taking away business from those who's livelihood depends of the sale of their few key items. A high street brand doesn't need to worry about that. They have mass production and a multitude of influences and trends to pick and choose from - they don't need to worry about where their takings are coming from to fund the business.

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Although I can't sit here and say I won't ever buy anything from these guilty high street stores ever again and yeah, not all my patches/pins are from independent brands, I just want people to be aware of this happening. You might not initially realise that something in a shop or online is a copy but try and shop around - look around a little before buying. It might be convenient to buy there and then because that's what the high street is: convenient. But truly think about where your money is going and who actually spent effort, time and money creating the piece you're after yet is being sold short by their originals not selling but some tacky, badly sewn copies are from other stores. It's those people who deserve your hard earned cash. It's those people who's creativity and artistic flare should be celebrated. Not Zara et al.'s lazy creative directors etc.

The greatest thing about to come of this terrible situation for Tuesday Bassen is the uproar on social media. The way Zara reacted to her has spread like wildfire and has meant people like myself are thinking twice about shopping in such places. It has also meant that other artists have suddenly realised their work has been stolen and they can all band together and try to do something about it. Although Adam J. Kurtz' website, Shop Art Theft, might seem like a small step to make, it is a fantastic way of demonstrating the scale of this problem, but it's also making it convenient for you as a buyer to buy. Kurtz has cleverly and rightfully placed links to each of the independent designers' shops/items making it easy for you to shop their ranges and support them. Remember what I said before about shopping around first? If this whole drama with Zara has actually made you look at some of the patches and pins and think "I actually quite like that" you now can find the original design and purchase it directly. Your money is going to the right place and you're paying for quality and carefully considered designs instead of lining the pockets of a major corporation who wouldn't notice a drop in sales because they'll just move onto the next money-making trend. Do the right thing.

Pins pictured:
- White Pig Pin: Busted's 2016 Pigs Can Fly Tour (gig merchandise)
- Rose Pin: Topshop
- Sloth Pin Set (Sloth Head & "Live Slow" Pins): Hello Harriet
- Explorer Pennant & Sensitive Artist Hand Pins: Explorer's Press
- Terrarium Pin: Finest Imaginary
- Angelique Houtkamp (Girl in a Beret) & "You're So Cool" Angel Pins: Red Temple Prayer
- Fallout Vault Boy & Nuka Cola Button Badges: eBay
- "I Believe" The X-Files & Morrissey Pins: LastCraft via No Fit State
- Uncle Fester Addams Pin: Two Ghouls Press via No Fit State
- Skull Button Badge: Hallow Society
- Asilda Store Pin: Asilda via No Fit State (sold out)
- Edgar Allan Poe Pin: No Fit State (sold out)
- Transylvanian Psycho & Special Agent Dale Cooper Pins: Nacho Scratcho
- DW Arthur Pin: Gloomology

Patches pictured:
- Skull Candle & "Menace to Society" Patches: Explorer's Press
- Traveller Patch: Asilda (sold out)
- Captain Levi "Whatever" from Attack on Titan Patch: Grace Ruby Designs (sold out)
- N7 Mass Effect & Dragon Age Templar Sword Patches: eBay
- Special Agent Dale Cooper Patch: Nacho Scratcho
- Auryn Neverending Story Patch: 8-Bit Zombie via No Fit State
- Henry VIII "I Love Girls" Patch: Jess Warby Shop
- Dogs Before Snogs Patch: Gappy Gobs

- A.
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