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An Irish designer has accused Penneys of ripping off one of her designs

“Today was another day I saw the ugly side of fashion.”

ZOE CAROL WONG is an independent Irish fashion designer.

The Galway native is the force behind womenswear brand Zoe Carol, which is stocked in a number of boutiques across Ireland and has been featured in publications like Sunday Business Post, Image, Hot Press, Stellar and many more.

Earlier this week, Wong received a photo of a blouse in Penneys that bore a striking resemblance to a blouse from her spring/summer 2016 collection.

Here’s the side-by-side image.

As you can see, the print, colour scheme and cut of the blouse are very similar.

Wong took to Instagram to point out the similarities and stated that she felt “cheated and flattered” at the same time.

She subsequently wrote an open letter to Penneys in which she alleged that they had stolen her design and lamented the fact that there was no law to protect independent, small-scale designers from what she termed “clear robbery of intellectual property”.

My design was open and free to the public and open to interpretation by anyone who saw fit. There’s no law against what you did and there’s no law to protect designers and makers. I’ve often thought about the world and why we have/need a store like Penneys. The fact is the world has become fast, cheap and disposable. It’s not pretty and today was another day I saw the ugly side of fashion.

Wong acknowledged that not everyone is able to afford or purchase her designs and alleged that Penneys had “taken what I envisioned into something inexpensive and for the masses”.

If you’re paying less than €20 for your blouse, it’s more than likely because they cut out the cost of paying a designer on top of other things (inexpensive fabric bought in bulk, low labour costs in developing countries and large manufacturing quantities).

This is far from the first time an independent artist or designer has accused a high street outlet of stealing their designs.

Last year, Zara was accused of copying a Los Angeles designer’s work. Urban Outfitters has been criticised for ripping off independent designers on numerous occasions.

In her blog post, Wong acknowledged that this was a fact of life for independent designers, but noted that it was nonetheless surreal to experience it firsthand.

None of this is new to me but it’s always shocking when it happens to me rather than some cool designer in Brooklyn who’s in a lawsuit battle against Urban Outfitters and I’ve read about on Buzzfeed.

DailyEdge.ie got in touch with Penneys to hear their side. In a statement, the brand vehemently denied being influenced by Wong’s designs.

They said that they were unfamiliar with her work and “at no time took inspiration from them”.

Primark’s team of designers take great pride in bringing its customers the latest trends at affordable prices. The Primark buyers responsible for commissioning and developing the product in question were not familiar with Ms Wong’s company, or with its designs, and at no time took inspiration from them.

Hmm. The plot thickens.

Fortunately, Wong appears to have adopted a philosophical position on the matter.

Moral of the story? F**K YOU PENNEYS but also you do you Penneys because this is life and life’s not fair.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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