Thursday, May 13, 2010

These knockoffs are uh-mazing

left: Aniseed Skirt ($128) from Anthropologie
right: Cricket Match Skirt ($42) from Modcloth

I've been doing double-takes lately, ladies. As Anthropologie becomes more popular and well-known it's drawing attention. From stock analysts. From fashionable ladies. From other retailers! A few of you emailed me yesterday to draw my attention to the skirt above from Modcloth. Look familiar? Except for the stripes being black instead of navy it's a dead knockoff of the Aniseed Skirt (product page is DOA but the skirt is still showing up in my wishlist).

At first I was up on my high horse writing about how upset -- nay, outraged -- I was by this nasty turn of events but then I realized publishing that post would make me a hypocrite and an idiot. Because how often have I admired a $1200 Chanel tweed coat or a $3500 Prada shirt only to wish for some midrange retailer to knock it off so I could pull off the look? Sometimes I wish for a $100 item to be reinterpreted just so I don't have to pay so much. So I don't intend to have that discussion.


left: Manisa Dress (was $178) from Anthropologie
right: Lisbon Dress ($54) from Modcloth

Instead I would like to open the discussion to the community. How do you feel when you see an item you want but can't afford knocked off by another store? Alternately, how do you feel when an item you bought gets reinterpreted for less somewhere else?

Personally, when an item I want is knocked off I rejoice. That is of course assuming that the cheaper version is of comparable quality. I have to admit the Lisbon Dress above doesn't hold a candle to the Manisa Dress in my mind, though some of these examples are appropriate substitutes.


left: Polaire Vest (was $118), Anthropologie
right: The Swordsmith Top, Modcloth

I get much more annoyed when something I've bought shows up knocked off a season later. Even though I shop at mostly mid-to-big box retailers I live under the illusion that I'm unique. The items I buy are special and I don't want anyone else wearing them. Of course I know that's not the case in reality but it's about the mindset. So it's annoying when an item I put my cash towards shows up at teeny bop retailer #257 for $30 and the kids are teasing me for dropping $150 more on my "real" version. Yeah I know that $180 version only cost $35 to make. Thanks for stuffing it in.

And this is not the same question as seeing the same item somewhere else for less. That's pretty cut and dry to me -- some retailer got a better wholesale deal or has a lower markup on an item. This is something else.


left: Bold Boutonniere Dress (was $128), Anthropologie
right: DuPont Circle Dress ($55), Modcloth

I suppose the question could come down to personal taste. If having an item during its most popular season is most important to you than you'll probably be inclined to go with the original. If budget is your first and foremost priority then the less-expensive option is probably your preference. Is one side right and the other side wrong? Not necessarily.

There's also the question of originality. Perhaps you've shopped at a store called Anthrocrewtaylored this year? Usually these stores have interesting and unique designs. Sometimes though I can't tell them apart.


left: Skyfall Dress (was $178), Anthropologie
right: Mystery Writer Dress ($55), Modcloth

I do think the line is drawn on the business side however. This is an ongoing debate in the high-fashion world: what to do about these knockoffs? And let's be honest -- a knockoff is just that. You're taking someone else's idea and repackaging it. On the surface that's at least pretty frickin' lame. You're profiting off of someone else's creativity. Is it also a legal question?


left: Flowers of Flowers Tank ($68) from Anthropologie
right: Luau Woven Top ($20) from Forever 21

In the past Anthropologie has certainly thought so. Last year Forever 21 was sued by multiple design houses for their sincerest form of flattery. Anthropologie joined in that parade. But this year it's been pretty quiet on the legal front. Have companies resolved themselves to inevitable knockoffs? Is the economy slowing down court cases? Or has the consumer spoken and demanded lower prices or more unique designs? What's your take?

Previously: Catharsis: Imagining the Forever 21/Anthropologie depositions

64 comments:

Rachel said...

I am happy Modcloth is knocking anthro off. Anthro is ridiculously expensive.

Chloe said...

Hahaha, I get hot when I find Nanette Lepore knock offs, so I get what you're saying. In one breath I'm all, "Oh yay! Look at my Swordsmith Top from Modcloth!" and in the next I'm all, "GOD DAMNIT I JUST SPENT HOW MUCH ON THIS JACKET AND WHY IS FOREVER 21 KNOCKING IT OFF?!?!!??!"

Hypocrisy, yes, but I try to avoid knock offs from designers I like when I can- like my beloved Ms. Lepore. I always feel slightly tormented by it, but at the same time- my last name isn't Money Bags, and sometimes Modcloth or Lulu's (or F21) will pop up with a knock off long after the item I actually wanted sold out, so what's a girl to do?

*sits on grabby hands*

Kim G said...

I guess I'm also happy that there are knock offs. In my opinion, it is wrong to completely copy (ie fake LV bags), but the most of the items you show are more inspired versions.

Anthro is expensive, and while I find that it is consistently high quality, sometimes I want a piece that I can wear a season or two and not feel the guilt.

roxy said...

Rachel - haha! Anthro, are you listening? (In my living in NYC-warped opinion I find Anthro's prices to be pretty fair. But again, warped.)

Chloe - Yes, this is the lament I have to. In my personal circle I have friends who can tell a k/o instantly so I feel more personal pressure to stick with the designer labels. But every once in awhile we'll find a substitute k/o that is every bit as delicious as the original and celebrate it (and buy it!).

Kim G - excellent point, and I think I talked around it without actually going there. But you're totally right, when it comes to trendy pieces that won't stand the test of time I am much more likely to seek out a cheaper version than I am with a classic piece.

JenLynn said...

Personally I don't agree with the knockoffs. I enjoy having a unique piece and with a knockoff the liklihood of seeing your "twin" on the street is increased. I don't find Anthro's prices that outrageous, they have enough merch that makes it to sale if you feel the price points are too high. Another concern is for those who search eBay for a long lusted item;they could fall prey to a knockoff that in a photo looks like the real thing and the seller lists as Anthro.

Celine said...

Great post! I have to admit that I'm mostly OK with knockoffs...in fact I write for a site that is dedicated to finding knockoffs of higher-end items. I don't know, however, that I'd wear any of the Modcloth knockoffs...they all pale in comparison to the originals in my opinion...but I have bought many pairs of knockoff SHOES. I just don't have the money to pay upwards of $500 on a pair of shoes!! That's where my weakness lies :)

flnw.blogspot.com

Robin said...

So funny that you posted this, as I was over at MC yesterday and noticed this top:
http://www.modcloth.com/store/ModCloth/Womens/Tops/Floral+Flight+Top
(in this case maybe it really is the same? not sure)
I was really taken aback, considering I spent more on mine on sale at Anthro than MC was charging. I think I'm torn, as I appreciate more affordable items (and feel like for some items Anthro has gone downhill in quality, not justifying the high prices), but also don't agree with stealing designs. hmmm. It would be interesting to know more about the process from design table to finished product. Thanks for opening up this interesting discussion!

Heather said...

I can understand the artist view of not wanting their work knocked off but I don't consider Anthro to really be a designer store (except for Anna Sui, Plenty, etc. other brands that they carry that they are). Much as I love Anthro, they are overpriced and the quality is not that great in a lot of their pieces lately. Maybe this will get them to rethink their pricing - dresses should go on sale for much cheaper than $80!

Jennifer said...

This is such a double-edged sword for me. Before my career finally picked up, I would have gladly taken the knock-off, simply and only because it was cheaper. Now that I have a little extra money to throw around, I have come to realize that having the original is so much better; I feel better about the purchase, I wear the item longer, and it gives me a sense of pride knowing that I purchased it directly from the original source and although no one else may know about it, *I* do. I appreciate it so much more than buying it at a place that doesn't suit me to begin with. I used to have a closet full of these "off-brand" clothings; now I have a smaller closet, but with things that I love and cherish and have to replace less often. :)

Excellent post!

TeriLynn13 said...

I don't necessarily mind the knockoffs. If there is something I like about the item but maybe something else prevents me from buying it (one color I dislike, length, price), it's sometimes nice to be able to find something similar elsewhere. The Limited had a cute version of the Carandy Dress and a Tracy Reese jacket if I remember correctly. I'm not sure how this would fly from a creative standpoint among designers though. Although at J Crew they are constantly surprising me with how many ways something can be arranged on a tee :-)

Anonymous said...

funny though, in each of these cases i think anthro's version is better -- the proportions are more careful, the waist is more structured, the colors more subtle.

also anthro targets women who are a bit older than modcloth/f21's demo, which means higher prices yes, but it also means bigger sizes. as someone who wears 14/16, it's pretty rare that i can fit anything in modcloth, where i once saw an L with a size 28 waist (!).

i wish anthro would stick to quality appropriate to higher prices == the claudine tee was practically see through imo -- and then the knockoffs wouldn't matter as much bc they'd be really targetting a different demographic.

Stephanie said...

Buying knockoffs should be based on your budget and what kind of closet you want to build. In college/grad school I shopped a lot of FV21, Charlotte Russe etc and bought knockoffs but I was a poor college student then. Now as a professional, I want to build a closet that I can wear for many years and with quality pieces. I rarely shop at these stores anymore and when I do I'm very selective on what I buy. I also find that the original fit my body much better and last a very long time. I don't buy knockoffs of my favorite designers either like DVF, Lepore etc. because I don't agree with other stores stealing designs, I think they should come up with their own and hire their own designers. Even at Anthro there are pieces I will buy full price and some I definitely wait for a sale, but I don't think I would go to Modcloth to buy what I want. I think because of the economy probably designers' litigation budget has been reduced but I don't think they are done suing. Also, high end designers are trying to capture the lower income market by offering cheaper lines are Target etc.

klinn said...

Truthfully, if modcloth had knocked off items that are on my wishlist, I'd be adding them to an online cart right now (at least for the items on my anthro wishlist that are a bit more trendy....for the classics, I'd likely pay for the original).

If you truly love the item itself and not just the name on the label(putting aside quality issues), then why it should matter whether it came from a high-price retailer or an off-brand? If everything at anthro was F21 prices, I'd still shop there and be EVEN happier, b/c for me, it's about the beauty of the clothing rather than the exclusivity factor that comes from pricing things at high price points. It seems like the only people pissed about knock-off Louis Vuittons are the ones who want people to know they dropped $1500 on a bag. Just my take.

tres tippy said...

I completely agree with Jennifer, and for me wearing the original is just a better feeling overall--in terms of both quality and principle. I do understand the appeal of knock offs though, and one of the benefits is that if something sells out completely at Anthro, you have another option of scoring something very similar. Unlikely that I would do this myself (I would probably continue to stalk the item at Anthro lol) but it's definite a nice "back up" to have.

plum said...

I do not mind the knock-offs as well.
Usually when I see the knock offs I feel tormented...but then I like my Anthro version even more as it is much more detailed and higher quality, like the Lisbon dress just looks cheap near the Manisa dress..
Usually the knockoffs just look cheap.
Plus Anthro's sales are great so that I do not need the knockoffs all the time.
That being said...if if something is ridiculously expensive I will definitely incline to the knockoff.
I agree with Chloe in the soldouts too...if they come up with Budding t-strap knockoffs I will get them!:)

Lastly, if a highly coveted item is soldout in anthro, and the only option is the outrageously high priced resellers in ebay, then the knockoff is the saviour

Lisa said...

I think I have a double standard because I don't appreciate knock-offs on things like purses or wallets (I've bought a faux piece before and obvious QA issues aside, I walk around thinking to myself "everyone knows"), but I don't really think much about it in terms of clothes.

I know that the fit and feel is just better in the original for more substantial pieces like jackets, dresses, etc. but I agree with Robin that for trendier or less substantial items (fancy tops that are essentially tees), I have a hard time swallowing $70 too.

Brianna said...

unfortunately, knockoffs are a part of life now. When you are on a very limited budget like I am, sometimes knockoffs are your only option, it's either that or nothing because by the time I have enough saved up, the item is gone.

gigiofca said...

The knockoffs pale in comparison when side by side w/the real item. I have seen most of the 'originals' irl, so I'm familiar w/the quality. Now, if I hadn't seen the originals and were totally unfamiliar, I might be excited by the knockoffs. I think part of the fun of them is discovery and if it's a very trendy items (ruffle much), I'm for it.

Jesspgh said...

I go back and forth on knock offs. I personally try to avoid them myself because the quality is usually so abysmal (which I expect from forever 21 but for what Modcloth charges you would think they could stock knock offs that don't look so obvious/cheap), the ethics nag at me (not just in terms of intellectual property but in terms of fostering the desire for more cheap junk that poses at least to some as fancy, and in terms of the lax labor/environmental standards knock off manufacturers so often exhibit-- though Anthro is also guilty of ignoring this final aspect). I know this is because I have the time to put effort into hunting a piece, but I feel like can almost always find the original on a major sale with a little tenacity. So why waste closet space with knock offs of poor quality?

Having said that, I will and have bought good quality knock offs from mid-range designers/stores. For example, I bought the Two-Paths trench from Anthropologie even though it is clearly a knock off of a Burberry jacket. I have bought Marc Jacobs bags that are quilted in ways clearly evocative of Chanel. etc. I guess the important thing you bring to light is that this stuff (as with most conundrums of consumerism) isn't black and white.

Maureen M said...

Like Lisa, I seem to not care as much about knockoffs as clothing. I don't like the knockoffs of bags and such. If the knockoff version is not too bad in quality and it looks nice on me, then I go for it if it's saving me a significant amount of money. As others have said, it's also very useful if it's a knockoff of an item that has long been sold out.

gumby said...

To be honest, Anthropologie isn't full of original designs. Plenty of the things we see in there and think are expensive are actually significantly cheaper versions/reinterpretations of much higher-end clothing. So, while I do hate seeing obvious mega-cheap knockoffs for some reason, it's not really justified since many of the places I shop are doing the same thing.

J @ The Look 4 Less said...

I love this post (in fact, I had to share the Aniseed skirt lookalike with my readers, I hope that's ok!! I gave you complete credit for the find and linked back to your blog), which considering the blog I write, is to be expected. I don't mind knockoffs, but I also don't have a closet full of them (as readers may suspect?). I think buying knockoff items are ok if you don't have the budget for the particular item or if you want to try out a trendy item that you weren't planning on getting a lot of wear out of.

Anonymous said...

SEVERAL of the Anthropologie offerings this year have seemed like knock-offs of JCrew sweaters and blouses, so it would be pretty hypocritical for Anthropologie to complain on that score.

And in fact, I think at least the Cricket Match skirt is an improvement over the Aniseed skirt 'original,' reducing the 'poof' and getting rid of the extraneous draping that some folks--on this very blog!--compared to, uh, 'ladybits.' Three cheers for cases in which imitation isn't flattery, but a critique that leads to enhanced options for the customer.

Chelsea said...

How I feel about a knock-off depends on the uniqueness of the original design and on how close the knock-off copies that design.

Case in point, my beloved Aniseed skirt. (Disclosure: I paid full price for my skirt and I loooove it.) ModCloth's knock-off skirt makes me really angry, and not just because of the money I could have saved. Maybe I haven't been looking hard enough, but I have never seen anything like the Aniseed skirt anywhere else before. ModCloth didn't design such a unique piece themselves, and a complete carbon copy is an insult to a real designer. It's not like ModCloth or F21 ripped off some embellished t-shirt designs, which are a dime a dozen these days.

The other knock-offs do not bother me as much because they are more "inspired by copies" than literal recreations. ModCloth's Lisbon Dress is brighter, shorter, and of less fine materials than the Manisa Dress. The Swordsmith Top at ModCloth has a less tailored neckline and a different color scheme than Anthro's Polaire Vest. The F21 Luau Woven Top is bright pink whereas Anthro's version is navy. The Boutonniere and Skyfall Dresses are both knocked off in different colors as well. But the knock-off Aniseed skirt looks exactly like the original. If ModCloth had even produced it in a different color scheme I would have been more appeased because it would have allowed the same distinction between original and knock-off as you see in the other pieces.

I don't mind knock-offs as long as something intrinsic to the look of the garment is still exclusive to the original. If you want that little detail, or that color scheme, or that quality, you have to go to the source. Any of us could enjoy all of the pieces, but a knowledgeable shopper can tell the difference in where it came from. Even if the Anthro versions and the ModCloth/F21 versions were priced exactly the same I would feel the same way: It is one thing to be inspired by someone else's work and quite another to copy every last detail.

roxy said...

JenLynn - you hit a topic that really burns my britches. I disdain ebay sellers who purposely market items as Anthropologie that are in fact not.

Celine - Ah yes, I admit I am always looking for k/o shoes when I can't afford the originals. And hopefully I don't come off as looking down my nose at k/o's or anyone who buys them. I love your blog! You have great style. I'm going to add you to my blogroll.

Robin - I agree, I would love to know about the production time. Is it something where store A sees an item at store B, sees a way to improve it and does so? Is it because store B has a shorter production time? Or is it that store A and store B come up with a similar idea but store A releases it first? Are these in-house patterns or third party ones? Etc.

Heather - I agree that I like the competition it inspires in the price war. However, if that price war leads Anthropologie to use cheaper materials that don't last then I will be VERY upset. So it's a double-edged sword.

Jennifer - I completely echo your sentiments. My clothing budget has expanded now that I've been in the job world for a bit so I can afford to buy more expensive items. But I know what it's like to be on a tight budget and that's why I can't begrudge anyone who looks for deals. I still look for deals.

TeriLynn13 - great point! I remember community members mentioning the Limited stuff and I seriously considered their Caranday k/o for awhile. Considering how stodgy I am about my own creative property I can only imagine what it's like for a designer. Not fun, I'm sure.

Anonymous @ 9:37 - another great point. I don't buy from ModCloth much because almost all of their items are far too short on me. So I have to look somewhere else.

Stephanie - you said it very eloquently. :)

klinn - haha, good points! And yes it does seem like the ones who drop the coin are the most likely to complain.

tres tippy - I concur with the backup idea. I have done that...purchased the real thing at fancy store A and gotten the k/o as a backup at not-as-fancy store B.

plum - wow what an awesome point to end on! I hadn't considered the ebay conundrum when writing this post but you are so right.

Lisa - I am an admitted bag snob so I hear you. And I agree that when it comes to trends I will go for the cheap option every time.

Brianna - It's true, and I think that on a budget the knockoffs make much more sense. It's not fair to be deprived of fashion just because money's tight!

gigiofca - quality is a huge issue with the knockoffs. Sadly, quality is sometimes also an issue with the original (as we've learned all too well).

Jesspgh - Great points! I'm a Two Paths Trench owner too and it is because the Burberry was out of my reach.

Maureen M - good stuff. I have noticed that ModCloth does seem to wait until the Anthro version is gone before releasing their take. However to me this is kinda evidence that they know what they're doing. Then again, it's also savvy business.

gumby - you are right. Anthro has plenty of original designs but some are clearly interpretations of higher-end or competitive range items. I don't mean to fully acquit Anthro in all this either. I am just blinded by my love for the store.

J @ The Look 4 Less - I don't mind one bit. :) You know I'm an everyday lurker at your blog!! I find it funny that people might assume you have a closet full of k/o's. I'm thankful for your blog as it's helped me find items that are on-trend but affordable.

Chelsea - great points. You're right, there are differences between the items. (Personally I dig the color of ModCloth's Mystery Writer Dress. It's just too short to work on me.)

Thanks ladies for the lively discussion! I hope these posts are interesting for you. :)

roxy said...

Anon @ 10:35 (sorry I missed you initially!) - interesting perspective. Now that you have pointed it out I do agree that the ModCloth version is slightly less floofy and that's kind of nice.

S said...

What a great post! I'm always torn on the idea of knock-offs. I get the idea of protecting intellectual property, but having retailers like F21 and Modcloth offer knock-offs on labels like Marc Jacobs or any Anthro brands is great for those of us who can only afford the occasional splurge. If I am coveting a piece, I'll gladly pay full price for an item that will be in my closet for a while (and is good quality - I don't think everything carried at Anthro is of the highest quality). Likewise, I'll happily buy a F21 piece to get a certain 'look.' I don't think buying knock-offs and the real thing have to be mutually exclusive.

As for the Aniseed skirt, I'm happy Modcloth offers an alternative...I had a heck of a time tracking one down, since they're sold out nearly everywhere, and am glad others can get their hands on this one!

corayz1212 said...

I have been noticing that Federated Dept. Stores (Macys & Bloomingdales) INC line has been reinterpreting many of Anthros ruffle style sweaters (one which comes to mind is the Moth Plaza cardigan, among others) the past couple of seasons. They are comparable style wise but not when it comes to the feel of the fabric and voluminosity. If you plan on wearing it only a couple of times I guess this is ok. Personally, I am bothered if I paid alot for something I considered to be special and see a cheaper mass produced copy.

Katie said...

I'll let this serve as my thoughts on the knockoffs: If fake!Skyfall dress were just 2-4 inches longer, I'd be all over that sucker.

I have no problem with knockoffs. If higher end stores don't want it to happen, they are free to stop charging outrageous markups. Even on sale, I am still paying a huge markup at Anthro, so I wouldn't feel one bit guilty finding the same thing for less somewhere else.

Whether or not I'd buy a knockoff depends simply on whether or not I like it enough compared to the original. For example, I think the fake!Skyfall dress looks just fine, and I even like the darker color (it's just too short, sigh). The fake!Manisa dress, however? Looks like a ten-year-old sewed it in her basement. I knew about this knockoff before buying the original, and went with the original because the knockoff took away everything I'd loved about the real one (dark color, gauzy/flowy feel, high quality embroidery, etc). But if I look at a knockoff and don't see a significant difference in how *I* feel about the two items, I will go with the cheaper. I'm the only one who matters in deciding what clothes to buy, and as long as I don't like the original a LOT more, to the point where a higher price point is justified, I feel fine with a knockoff.

triciathomas said...

I have mixed emotions about it! If I have the item I am usually mad... if I don't then I don't care! The thing about Anthro is that the clothes are made to fit and flatter a woman's body. I find that the knockoffs usually are unflattering. So if you are stick skinny and look great in everything then get the knockoff's! I pay the $$ because of how I look in the clothes not because they are expensive!

Jesspgh said...

corayz1212 is right! I remember when Bloomingdales.com carried an exact replica of the Tibi Honeycrisp sweater coat the year after it was sold at Anthro. But their price points were really similar. I don't live near a bloomgingdales so I couldn't scope the quality in person.

Brianna said...

wow roxy, I am impressed that you took the time to address each one of us in a comment! very thoughtful

GinaBean said...

Great post Roxy...I love how you've been starting some great convos with your blog lately!!!here's how I feel about knockoffs..

I think it's great that there are other (cheaper) options out there if you are going for the Anthro-look on a budget. I think I would succumb to the knockoff-temptation on a case by case situation.

But ultimately, I can see myself more patiently waiting for Anthro...I feel like the quality is better and there is something to be said about the whole Anthro-experience (well, minus the Anthro card...lol) that I really enjoy! I enjoy the "hunt", the "sales", everything!

And I don't really feel badly if let's say I have the real thing and someone else has the cheaper "twin". Each to their own! And I just will be secretly smug that I have the original. :-)

Alissa said...

The ModCloth knock-offs right now do really annoy me. They have stocked some of Anthro's actual stuff in the past (mostly shoes - they have tons of real Miss L Fire ones right now) and sell $500 Betsey Johnson dresses, so it's not like they exclusively cater to the girls on tight budgets here. I really like ModCloth a lot of the time since they carry smaller designers from London and have quirky vintage pieces, but the Anthro knock-offs are becoming way too common lately. I find it silly at their price points since they routinely stock dresses that cost as much or more than Anthro ones.

My feelings about them specifically aside, I don't really mind knock-offs, but if you're going that route I feel like it has to be the F21 ultra cheapo all the time route.

I am kind of a hypocrite about Anthro though because I think all the complaining about their price-points isn't that justified. I know high-priced clothing is marked-up. However with Anthro, the high quality of a lot is worth the price quite a lot of the time - you get what you're paying for there. There are misses or overly delicate items (or $70 tees) but I avoid them knowing they aren't worth it. I also assume with them (perhaps wrongly, I don't know enough about their inner workings), the original designer of the item was compensated (which they certainly wouldn't be in an F21 scenario) which allows for some of the mark-up. For all those reasons I'm okay with their prices, even though I remember being a poor college student (it was only last year) who couldn't afford them often.

roxy said...

S - what a great point. You're right, k/os and originals don't have to be exclusive, especially since as Chelsea pointed out there's usually some differences. So if you LIKE the k/o better, why not buy it?

corayz1212 - interesting. It's funny how stores look to each other and want to dip their toes in with whatever's hot.

Katie - I have the same length issues as you. And you are right on-point with your thoughts.

triciathomas - LOL. Right on, I am unlikely to fit into most of these k/o's so I hear where you are coming from.

Jesspgh - really? I do not remember this but I am intrigued.

Brianna - :). I only wish I could do it for every post.

GinaBean - LOL. Oh girl am I friends with you in real life? Because my friends would say the exact same thing re: secret smugness. That's part of why I love them though. ;)

Alissa - True, I should have mentioned that ModCloth is often a spotted for less! candidate too. Great point.

If you want some additional color about why I am anti F21/fast fashion by the way, this article illustrates my concerns. The comments are also a good read.

Kelly Jeanne said...

This is tricky. I value artistic integrity, and I love Anthro. On the other hand, all through grad school and now as a teacher, I've had trouble affording Anthro pieces. I don't always think the quality justifies the price, and we all have to buy what we can afford. If Anthro can't meet me halfway and offer better prices, of couse I'm going to buy cheaper versions when I feel compelled.

I remember a quote from an Anthro higher-up who was describing the target Anthro customer. S/he said something about the customer being a woman who appreciates art, travel, wine, etc., all things that I'm sure we all love. Then there was a twist. S/he said that this customer also makes over 100,000$ or so (I can't remember the exact amount). I can't tell you how much that bothered me, and kind of hurt me, to be honest. I guess you could say that I should have expected that, considering their prices. On the other hand, it feels like they're writing off all of the good, creative people who will never make that sort of paycheck. And I love my job!

Sorry for the long post! Roxy, this is such a great post. It really made me think.

Erika said...

The unfortunate aspect lies in the fact that a designer is essentially having their creative work not only borrowed without permission, but *modified*. However, many of those designers also borrow ideas from items and trends of the past. If designing was your life and you had a very specific vision for a unique piece that you were creating, would it bother you to see it debased or altered?

It spills over into other creative realms like music and writing. Is downloading music for free instead of buying the album ok? If everyone did that how much money would musicians lose? I've also come across pirated audiobooks and literature posted on the internet, though not as frequently. Authors take a much more direct blow, not being able to pull in revenue from things like concerts and advertising deals.

The truth is, it happens in all realms of business. The internet's prolific success has only increased the sharing of ideas. One thing is successful so other people copy it as best they can without being sued. Heck, I see that in appliances too.

Frankly I try to buy the original, mostly because I keep things forever and quality is important. And sometimes the detailing is so damn nice that *I* like knowing it's there, even if no one else notices. There's that difference in how I feel wearing the item!

Jesspgh said...

Roxy, I remember it only because I STALKED that honeycrisp sweater after it sold out and finally found one on ebay, feeling triumphant until I saw that all I had to do was wait another month to see it knocked off exactly (right down to the big oval buttons and delicate trumpet sleeves) by an in-house line at bloomies.

Betsy said...

Love this post! It's an interesting discussion. I don't really mind knockoffs in theory. For me the issue is ultimately quality. I'd rather purchase an item at Anthro for a bit more, and wear it longer. In my experience, items from Forever 21 and other "Teeny bop" (hee hee!) places tend to shrink, stretch, fade, or rip after a very short period of time. Anthro pieces hold up much better over time.

Just Erin said...

as Anonymous stated - she thought each Anthro item looked better than the knock off version - so, I think you get what you pay for... the Anthropologie products (for the most part) are much higher quality - and they probably will last longer, fit better, etc.

So I think it's nice to have the option if you don't have the cash to fork out for an Anthro item you love, but can't afford (especially if it's something trendy, that probably won't last long in your wardrobe rotation). But most of us, I think would go for the Anthro even if we can't afford, (possibly by stalking the sale section) before we fork out cash for inferior version.

goldenmeans said...

I admit though I technically feel a smidgen of guilt when indulging in a knockoff, I do buy them from time to time (at least of high-end designer pieces I will truly never be able to afford, or when a piece has long since sold out, or when the original manufacturer does not make their shoes in a size 11, sob), so as a whole, I'm not against them. But I have to admit not being thrilled with Modcloth at this moment. Not because they are knocking something off, directly, but because...wow, I can tell even from half the pictures that the quality/cut is kind of shameful. So it's sort of insulting in a way. Is that silly? It probably is. I just think if you're gonna bother to knock it off, you should make it look somewhere near as decent :) (Though, to be fair, the Cricket Match skirt seems pretty good...)

Maybe real high-end designers think that of stuff that Anthro knocks off (the Two Paths Trench is the most obvious example, knocking off Burberry, but there have been others, the Alber dress was a Lanvin k/o, the Windowpane Tights were Chanel k/os....) is also shameful compared to hand-stitched couture clothing, I don't know. But at least I feel good in Anthro's clothes, whereas ModCloth clothes inevitably bug me with their thin/cheap material and scandalously short hemlines. And generally I give Anthro more of a pass for picking and choosing pieces here and there to imitate from a wide catalog rather than slowly and surely choosing the winners from another single brand.

And the weird thing is I don't even include F21 in my wrath, because in my opinion, they generally give me cheap clothes yes, but for a cheap price. MC provides cheap clothes at a cheaper-but-not-cheap price. I think their employee discount is something like 70%, which gives a general indication of how high the level of the markup must be. I know Anthro has a huge markup as well, but in my opinion it's worth paying sometimes to fund the cool things that Anthro does -- coming up with the actual designs themselves, providing pretty pretty catalogs, sponsoring small artists, amaaaaazing customer service, a nonpareil return policy...when I buy clothes from Modcloth I'm not sure what that margin is funding.

Anonymous said...

I was relieved to have found the Manisa dress knockoff. I had actually bought the original at the $178 price but returned it because it was too small. Then when it went on sale for $90 I bought a size up, and then the zipper broke and I had to return it again, after it was completely sold out. The Modcloth version actually corrected a lot of the problems I found with the original -- a less plunging neckline, a looser fit, a nice summer weight, and the bubble hem gives it a more modern and less folksy look. The original had a nicer wool/cotton fabric and had more embroidery, but what a price difference!

In general I don't find Anthropologie prices that outrageous for the amount of wear I get. I have Anthro clothes from 7+ years ago that still look timeless, especially the cardigans and sweaters. But at the same time I'm all for the knockoffs if they are different enough so that they're not exact copies. As a previous poster said, many of Modcloth's clothes are made for junior wear and don't come in as many size options. For those of us with more womanly bodies, Anthro still provides us with better choices.

Anonymous said...

http://famespy.com/2009/11/03/anthropologie’s-polaire-vest-channels-vivienne-westwood-anglomania/

And it goes on and on and on.

I do love anthro and I too don't like it when modcloth makes obvious copies of their clothes but I think it is impossible for any clothing company to be completely unique.

Galia said...

Bring on the knock-offs!

I love anthro and have many items of clothing, accessories, and home goods from my favorite store. However, I do not generally find the quality of the clothing to be different than anything I get from Target or The GAP. Some of these clothes come from the very same factories in Sri Lanka with the difference being only the label. And the mark-up is absurd -- 120 dollars for a mass marketed top that cost 4 bucks to make? I get around dilemma for myself by looking for deep discounts. 29.95 for a cotten top is actually something I can live with. :)

Aire said...

Hi Roxy,



You do bring an interesting topic to the table--and one that I know a lot of people feel very strongly about. On behalf of ModCloth, I would like to add our input. J


ModCloth does not produce or design our own clothing. Susan Gregg Koger, our founder, and her buying team travel the globe looking for unique clothing and decor from independent designers at a wide range of price points.
We began by selling one of a kind vintage items (and still do offer one true vintage item daily!) and our mission remains to offer unique clothing for young women that differs from what she might find in the mall. However, it is impossible for our buyers to keep track of every item/design that is on the market. So from time to time they do fall in love with a style and it happens to be similar to one found from another designer. Please know that is never our intention to steal a style. If our buyers had known that any of these items were inspired by the Anthropologie pieces, they would have never bought them.


In regards to the quality of our goods, that is another area that we strive to keep at a high standard. We feel our Reviews section on every product really gives our shoppers a voice in what designers they want to see continue to be carried on the website, allowing customers to give us positive and negative feedback on their purchases.


Thank you for starting this interesting conversation. It was great to read the feedback from your readers.

If you have any further questions, feel free to e-mail me directly.


A.Plichta@modcloth.

Thank you,

Aire @ModCloth

Marcela said...

I think Anthropologie can't say anything, or Vivienne Westwood will complain about the Polaire Vest and Burberry will complain about the Two Paths trench...

And, talking about the same subject, have you seen this tee before, or a certain Leifsdottir Sweater from 2008?

Natalye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lola said...

Another perpetrator of Anthro knockoffs is Ruche. Even their website and logo look Anthro-esque. Check out the "sail away with me striped dress": http://www.shopruche.com/dresses-c-2.html?page=3&sort=20a

It's an exact replica of the Mariner Dress that Anthro sold last year!

Lola said...

On one hand, I have a hard time arguing against the concept of knockoffs because they make fashionable pieces available to people from lower-income households. It's nice for everyone to have access to beautiful clothing! Why should cute, trendy items be restricted to only the upper and upper-middle class?

At the same time, I do find it frustrating when I see a knockoff of an Anthro item that I've saved up for. Like Roxy, I like to feel unique, so it's sad to see hoards of teenagers wearing the "unique" item that I scrimped and saved for.

That's why I like it when designers specifically create affordable lines to be sold at stores like Target. Then they still have control over their creations, but at the same time they're providing options for people at all income levels.

Caro said...

Any of those lawsuits benefit only one person: the lawyer. I think there must be all these predatory lawyers milking designers for legal fees filing pointless lawsuits! Can't copyright fashion, so no help there, and getting a fashion trademark is only possible for things like the Burberry plaid. So, if the suits have died down this year, I hope it's because designers are wising up to their dummy lawyers and start investing in a good lobbying consultant instead!

Mimi's Gamines said...

Just to add a point of interest...

I purchased an exact match to the "beanstalk" skirt in spring 2007 while I was in Paris.

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=72206&navAction=jump&navCount=46

It couldn't possibly be a copy, because it was the current 'PRINT' catalog at the time. The brand on my skirt was Lucy Collection not Anthropologie's Lithe. It is an exact replica/match, there is absolutely no difference. I know because I tried on, petted, mewed after the "real" version several times at my then local store but couldn't afford it at the time. The two (well, thousands surely) were obviously produced at the same time, in the same factory in China. It raised some questions for me at the time certainly, in regards to Antropologie's integrity. And at a price point of 20 some odd € compared to the ghastly $100+ I had no qualms, and a story from Paris, to go along with my beloved skirt. Which I still often wear, thanks to a quality produced garment (And we all seem to remember the quality of the garments from that time period with fondness!)

Anonymous said...

Again, when Anyonymous has pointed out here:

http://famespy.com/2009/11/03/anthropologie’s-polaire-vest-channels-vivienne-westwood-anglomania/

...that Anthro routinely "rips off" more expensive labels, we can't tsk-tsk that someone has gotten away with a 'look' for less. Should Vivienne Westwood sue Anthro?

If Anthro did not produce their clothes in the same Indian, Sri Lankan, etc., factories as the 'lesser' brands do, then I might argue in favor of their uniqueness. But--and this came up in the thread about the ANTHRO card--Anthro is out to make a buck, guys. Let's not pretend that Anthro's a little old granny with a sewing machine whipping up unique skirts in batches of a dozen, in her spare time, so that we can feel 'special.'

Natalye said...

Hey Roxy,

I think that some knock-offs are OK. But I believe in brand loyalty. Generally, I would rather give my money to Anthro than to a place that was knocking their items off. I tend to like the way the real deal's (i.e. Anthro) clothes fit. They are sized for va variety of womens bodies. More often than not, retailers like F21 (which are OK for some things) dont have nearly the quality in material or fit- as they arent made to last long. While I would purchase some things from F21, Anthro and retailers like them fit better and last longer- and thus are worth the money spent. Shoes and purses are among things where the quality is worth the money.

I do agree with some other followers that Anthro items are overpriced at times, but like one person said here, they go on sale fairly quickly.

It is important to remember that most retailers "copy" each other to some extent. Unfortunately, but it happens. We vote which is better by choosing where to buy.

Thanks for the topic it's awesome :)

Tissa said...

Hmm, my reaction to knockoffs tends to change depending on how close of a copy something is, but on whole, I'm not a fan. I'm an artist on a creative team, so I've seen firsthand how copies can hurt a designer financially. You spend time and money- sometimes months and months- developing something, and someone comes along and profits from that design without having had to spend resources on development. Those people take business away from the original designer, and it's not fair.

I don't agree with the argument that knockoffs are good because they make high-end pieces accessible to everyone. If this sounds harsh, hear me out! I don't mean this in a snobby way at all, as I'm at the lower end of the income bracket and can't afford said high-end goods at all; I have to really save and stalk sales to get the Anthro pieces I like. However, I also realize that fashion is a luxury, not a necessity. If I can't afford the $3000 bag, I go with one I can afford. I also don't agree that designers should lower their price points if they don't want their designs knocked off; it's not the production costs we're paying for, it's the design or label.

Secondly, I feel that there are pretty things to be had at every price point, so it's not necessary to buy knockoffs to be nicely dressed! I'm continually amazed by the people who are talented at hunting for goodies at thrift shops or less-expensive stores and manage to outdress others. (That said, as a consumer, I get the appeal of a more affordable knockoff and I don't blame anyone for wanting to take advantage of that. I also realize that some of the things I own might be knockoffs, so I'm probably guilty of being a hypocrite too!)

At the same time, I'm completely okay with pieces that are inspired by others, but have their own unique twists that make them better or at least a reasonably different take on the original. I'll buy a knockoff if I feel it outdoes the original in terms of quality, design, etc.; I just don't like carbon copies!

Jessica [ frequently full ] said...

Goldenmeans - Cosign.

Lola - So true about Ruche! I admit to following their blog and photographer's blog because they produce some pretty things but the clothes are very Anthro-esque. I've considered doing posts on my blog the likeness only for the k/o to sell-out and disappear from the site. Also, they tend to do k/o a some time after the original has sold out/out of season.

My opinion - Knock-offs bother me when they came right after the original. Inspired items or k/o that come out a season later don't bother me at all.

Anonymous said...

If I had a very high clothing budget, I'd always buy the real thing. I find the beauty is in the details (usually) and the more expensive items usually offer more attention to details.
But, my budget for clothing isn't high, so until Anthro lowers their prices (not gonna happen!), I'll happily buy knockoffs of designs I like.

Andrea said...

I love vintage clothing for the aesthetics and for the quality that defines most older items. That is what originally attracted me to Anthropologie, many of their designers are inspired or in fact actually copy earlier designs with quality materials, and are more easy to find than vintage. Though I still prefer vintage to Anthro. So as far as "interpreting" other designs, even many of the true designers that Anthropologie stocks owe a lot to former artists who's names are known by few. Because of this, I don't see a problem with knock offs that make fashion styles available to younger people that haven't reached a career in their life. I personally do not buy Anthro items to show status, I just prefer the quality on (most) pieces to knock offs. I know that in most cases I can get the same size without ever trying them on, and that the materials will be a wow. I think Anthro's prices going up to create more of a status name is eventually going to make me no longer shop there, though.

christie said...

This is a good post!

Something else to consider is that Anthropologie isn't necessarily designing their clothing. They are buying them from manufacturers based on what they want their merchandising stories to be. It is actually possible that the same manufacturers are making knock-offs of their own items and selling them to lower priced retailers in an attempt to get more market share.

Anthropologie does not carry their own house label brand, like J. Crew, American Eagle or Gap. And while they do have a in-house design team that I'm sure designs things and then specs them out to manufacturers, the merchandising and buying team is getting things from all over the world. J. Crew, AE, Gap, and retailers like them generally do all of their own designs versus visiting fashion markets to purchase their lines.

Forever21 has a merchandising strategy similar to Anthropologie's where they do much of their purchasing from outside designers or manufacturers, but maintain a private label program.

Kristina said...

First I have to give Modcloth some love for being an awesome independent company, and not a chain like Anthro. I follow their company and respect what they are trying to do with their internet retail site.

My closet is a mish mash of high and low, thrift, vintage and new. I welcome a variety of price points and quality so I can choose which to go for. I'm not going to be offended on Anthro's behalf. You just posted their quarterly earnings yourself. ;-)

Red Leslie said...

Too bad these are junior sizes

Loose Threads said...

Those so called "knockoffs" from Modcloth either look better than the Anthropologie clothes or nothing at all like them.

Does Anthropologie even design their own clothes or just buy them from several designers and put the Anthropologie name on them and sell them?

roxy said...

Anthropologie absolutely designs clothing in-house. They also seek out American designer/production houses to collaborate with.

bonjouritsjinah said...

Roxy, I'm so glad you brought this up! I have so many mixed feelings about this. I love shopping and fully support Anthro and understand that it is a business and businesses are designed to well, make money.

But sometimes a knock off isn't quite a knock off. Many things (even "house brand" items!!) at Anthro are purchased by UO's buyers from wholesale brands. Who's to say that the copy isn't the exact same item but branded differently?

However, Anthro does employ a design team and produces beautiful, unique pieces. Which I grab, more than happy to fork over my dollars!

And one point I've been trying to bring up, is that Anthro's design team (in addition to many other designers) do scout for inspiration from other designers as well as the past. I have a friend that works in a vintage shop to which one of the Anthropologie buyers/concept people comes and buys a lot of clothes. I've seen pieces get remade from pieces I remember from the past and from couture designers on the runway.

Anonymous said...

Not an exact duplicate of the Aniseed skirt, but similar (and on sale for $19) http://www.karenkane.com/store/sale/skirts/side-ruffle-skirt?color=stripe