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Lil’ Shop of Horror: Urban Outfitters

April 14, 2009

This horror story is a little different from what you’d expect.  Indulge me.

So we’re all pretty much aware that UO and F21 are well adept at knocking off big designers, right?  I mean, I can understand why.  Most people shopping at those places aren’t on a designer budget.  No biggie.

HOWEVER, I am starting to take issue with the increasing rips off of small, unknown designers that I’m seeing more and more of lately.

Case 1: Sunday, I popped into Space Fifteen Twenty, the extra chi-chi, well merched Urban Outfitters on Cahuenga.  Being the masochist I am, I browsed for about two hours noting stuff that I was going to get my hands on come May 1.  Then I saw this:

You can imagine the SUPREME side eye I gave this after posting about amerrymishap’s necklace and etsy store.  Believe me when I say that the original (I’m willing to wager that her’s was first) is exponentially better in terms of construction and cuteness.

Case 2: While making my rounds about the blogoshpere and visiting the queens of Kingdom of Style, I caught wind of the Necklush, those wonderful, layered jersey scarves, and the etsy store where they are available:

While I was talking to J. about the first offense and looking for a photo to  show her why I was outraged, I saw this:



Biting major designers is one thing.  Biting etsy designers…that few people by comparison know about…who do things by hand and not necessarily for major recognition…who probably don’t get to show in markets or fashion shows…well, that’s just low.  Very, very low…

Or Urban Outfitters is the originator and people are insanely creative and able to come up better versions of what they have to offer and should be lauded for their skills.

Double standards.  I know.  =P

But seriously, I will always side with small, independent operations.  Always.

I’m not using this as a reason to never shop at UO again (that’s extremely unrealistic because I’m still on these boots and several other things), but I get pains when I see stuff like this happen.  I think I’m going to start a campaign to support smaller designers when I can spend money again.  Who’s with me?

My blog’s new home is up; you should go there.

42 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 12:59 pm

    I hear you. I actually just bought a cute necklace from amerrymishap after seeing your initial post on her and it pains me to think UO is possibly ripping off her and other independent little guys from etsy. And you’re right, the UO versions aren’t even as cute. I always side with the independents too.

  2. April 14, 2009 1:00 pm

    I’m with you 100%

  3. ashemischief permalink
    April 14, 2009 1:08 pm

    UO has had a long standing history of copying the designs of independent designers, unfortunately. I worked there from 2005-2006, and at that time, it wasn’t uncommon for many of our t-shirt designs to be rip-offs from small screenprinters & designers. Even then, it wasn’t unusual to see blog posts shaming them for doing so.

    It makes me glad that I’m not working there anymore.

  4. April 14, 2009 2:09 pm

    SMH at UO… and I work there lol. I def support the independent designers more so than retailers, this is the first time i am seeing thins. tisk tisk UO tisk tisk lol

  5. April 14, 2009 2:49 pm

    I completely agree. It’s too bad the people buying those items at UO will never know the true creativity behind their designs as well. Always support the independents!

  6. April 14, 2009 3:27 pm


  7. April 14, 2009 10:22 pm

    i am! are we gonna march? picket?

  8. April 15, 2009 6:20 am

    that’s kinda sad

  9. alsoboughtnecklace permalink
    April 15, 2009 9:20 am

    I’m with you. I also bought a necklace from the etsy store after I saw it here.

  10. April 15, 2009 9:55 am

    I don’t mind when they knock off high-end $1000 shoes and $500 shirts, but when they start pickin at the indie designers, it pisses me off. Especially since you know the shoppers aren’t going to go looking for the originator. UO is getting paid while some flourishing young artist is getting ripped off. There should be honor among thieves. Shouldn’t there? They need to get like F21 and knock off Diane von Fursenberg or somebody! I know that last part sounded bad…

  11. April 15, 2009 9:59 am

    these are amazing!

  12. April 15, 2009 4:14 pm

    That’s terrible. I like UO, why are they copying…GRR…
    I really like necklush stuff..

    I’m not buying anything for myself til Im in London in June.

    xx-LJ from SOS!

  13. April 15, 2009 10:11 pm

    Man, am I with you! I’ve seen stuff like this and it makes my stomach turn! I’m hearing more and more about “trend watchers” that work for big chains “scouting” Etsy and other indie design sites. I was featured on the blog of one of these, and I nearly had a heart attack!

  14. April 15, 2009 10:21 pm

    I saw that necklace in a window and knew I’d seen it somewhere. It is sad that that UO has been doing this and getting away with it, even years before Etsy they were accused of this. I help organize a craft show in Chicago and a jewelry vendor came up to me at our last show to point out a woman who was trying to take pictures surreptiously. “She’s a buyer for UO.” was all she had to say before I went up to the woman and asked that she not take pictures at the show without getting permission from the vendor first. She started to get huffy and then just stopped. She put her camera away and didn’t make a scene, but I’m sure she could still get what she was looking for on people’s Etsy or websites. Sadly the only way that UO will feel the pinch is if their client base stops buying from them over this.

  15. April 15, 2009 10:29 pm

    I am with you. Thanks for the crackerjack report. What a travesty.

  16. April 15, 2009 10:54 pm

    yeah. i knew it was bad news when i saw the necklush copy under their Urban Renewal line last week. and did anyone notice this week… they’re selling Singer sewing machines on their online store now. as well as buttons and trim and other sewing notions. they’re totally trying to exploit the resurgence of the handmade scene.

  17. April 15, 2009 11:42 pm

    I appreciate your stance… but the crochet necklaces have been around for years. I have crochet magazines that are three or four years old with how to’s on making all kinds of stuff like that. It’s really cute yes, but it’s certainly not all that fresh.

    The UO rip off of the Neck Lush design is just plain ugly!

    I am all for supporting indie designers. When you take in to account the fact that the quality of the stuff you can purchase at venues like UO is one step above garbage it really should give people an extra push in the direction of hand made.

  18. April 15, 2009 11:59 pm

    Eww. I’ve always been in love with Necklush. UO’s copycat version’s kind of pathetic looking, actually. Seriously, people should be giving small-name designers much more credit–because they’re brilliant.

  19. April 16, 2009 9:32 am

    😦 this happened to me too….

    more reason to avoid big box and shop indie and second-hand!

  20. April 16, 2009 1:58 pm

    Aw, I hardly ever shop at UO because the quality to price ratio isn’t very good, but that sucks they are being thieving jerks.

  21. April 16, 2009 6:17 pm

    Not only that, but as usual the price is the same or less to buy the original. The same goes when they rip off real vintage. Let’s all start a revolution – no more chain stores! I’ve been shopping exclusively at small/indie/resale for about 10- years. It’s not hard at all, and it feels good to support local businesses and designers.

  22. April 16, 2009 7:58 pm

    Wow, those necklaces from UO and etsy sellers are wayyyy too similar to be a coincidence. Somebody copied somebody, and my money is on UO… thanks for bringing this to our attention! Shame on UO!

  23. April 16, 2009 9:20 pm

    That is TERRIBLE! Ugh it annoys me to no end when big chain retailers pull crap like this – esp. because most of the time, the “little guy” doesn’t have the time, money, or resources to fight back. I didn’t really shop at UO anyways, but I will definitely NOT be giving them any of my hard earned moolah any time soon after seeing this!!

  24. April 16, 2009 10:40 pm

    I’m with you – let’s support the little guy!

    And while we’re at it, let’s support the small, indie bath & body makers as well… 😉


  25. April 17, 2009 1:01 pm

    here’s my UO story. my local Urban Outfitters contacted me to make a charity donation to them for a charity auction. so i took 3 days and made a very complicated little item. i’m one of those etsy designers like you are mentioning. so i finish the thing and bring it in and ask them to contact me when the auction takes place. i never hear anything. so i call the UO woman who contacted me. never hear anything. try again. no one is returning my calls. so they kept my work. they won’t return my calls. and there NEVER WAS a charity auction. amazing huh? i’ve never written about it online but there you go.

  26. April 18, 2009 1:32 pm

    ughh. why, urban, why?? it’s sad because this has been going on for a while. i know many independent artists and designers who were doing tshirt collaborations with urban. they were then fired from their projects, and later their designs appeared in stores under urban outfitters own private labels. (although, sliiiiightly tweaked) it’s so fucked up.

  27. Anonymous just for this comment! permalink
    April 18, 2009 4:53 pm

    all the people who have been ripped off like this should get together, i mean this, and sue the pants off of them. this is INSANE.

  28. April 19, 2009 11:25 am

    i remember when UO started carrying alex + chloe necklaces and i was a little annoyed, but then i thought well at least UO isnt ripping them off. those necklush pieces are incredible.

  29. Anonymous just for this comment! permalink
    April 19, 2009 3:07 pm

    just want to keep this thread alive…

  30. Anonymous just for this comment! permalink
    April 19, 2009 3:10 pm


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