I think the story goes the same for everyone who comes to London for the first time. You come to this wonderful market (usually Camden. Or Nothing Hill, Spitalfileds, just one of the touristy ones) and think you have discovered a wonderful treasury of unique and cheap accessories and clothes. But soon, probably once you actually go to a stall and look at it closely, you realise most of the people are just reselling cheap mass-produced merchandise that was probably made in inhumane conditions somewhere in Asia. So you don’t buy anything and move on, very disappointed.(Some people obviously fall for it, or maybe they just don’t care, as long as it looks nice, but is cheap). The same happened to me and I just forgot about it. I never really thought about who designs all of this unique looking things, I just presumed it’s something done by one of the poorly paid freelancers on the internet. Well, I was wrong. (Not that poorly paying freelancers is OK, but it’s better than this…)
This weekend we went to Brick Lane again (another set of Norbs cousins is visiting) and we had to check out the market there (backyard or whatever the name is, I always forget). Both of them really liked one of the stalls with t-shirts and at first glance they looked like they could be quite unique. I know some people who print their work on t-shirts, so this could be like that. But then I recognized an illustration one of the shirts.
I’ve been a part of the Spoonflower community for a few years now, so it wasn’t hard for me to remember that the owls around the neckline of some shirts were actually a very pretty and popular apron design from one of the more well know Spoonflower designers – ceanirminger. To be sure, I took out my phone and checked Yup, it was her appron. I thought that the designer might have sold the design to someone, but it still seemed fishy, so we took a crappy mobile phone picture and I messaged her on Spoonflower. Guess what, she had no idea about her design being (not really that nicely) placed on some cheap t-shirts and sold on many different stalls in London.
She’s been doing some research and finally found the source of the shirts. It’s a company from Taiwan, called Hypnosi2. The thing is, there’s not really a lot a designer can do about it. You could probably try and sue them, but you would need quite a lot of money and nerves. (Or can she? if anyone reading this knows what to do, post it in the comments!)
So the most we can all do is just tell the world about it. Warn everyone. If you come to London (or, I assume any other fashionable place), when you buy “unique” things, make sure, you’re not supporting someone who steals designs (and exploits cheap labour. The exploiting people to make cheap clothes is a completly different problem, that is obviously even worse. But this post is about stealing design, not other faults of humanity)