British embroidery artist Hanecdote has accused high street chain Topshop of using one of her original designs without her knowledge or permission. Writing on Twitter on October 9, the artist — real name Hannah Hill — said she had "just been informed" that Topshop "stole" her design.
The design in question is a patch that Hill created to sell on her Etsy store (now inactive). The patch features a pumpkin on a white background with a purple border, and the words "Halloween Queen." Topshop is currently stocking a pair of socks called "Halloween Queen socks" which also feature patches of white and purple, featuring pumpkins and the words "Halloween Queen."
This story follows a scandal in the U.S. earlier in 2016, when major retailer Zara callously responded to independent artist Tuesday Bassen's allegation that the brand had copied her designs. This was followed by a torrent of fresh accusations against Zara, with shoparttheft.com listing 42 examples of artists' designs believed to have been reproduced by Zara without permission.
The FADER has reached out to Topshop and Hanecdote for comment.
Update: October 10, 11.26 a.m.
Hill has provided further comment on the situation to The FADER via email. She wrote: "This isn't the first time a popular high street store has used one of my designs without my permission. I can't name names due to the terms of settling out of court, but this kind of thing happens to independent artists/makers all the time!...It's hugely frustrating that multinational companies would rather invest in their legal department than in credible designers. Even if Topshop or other companies aren't aware/don't check, they are huge companies with the resources and responsibility to check the designs they put out in their shops.
"Unfortunately, these companies know that independent shops do not have the funds to legally do anything. For this reason, social media is our best friend, we can get our supportive and loyal followings to kick up a fuss about it in the hopes that something will change. These big companies are bullies and will do anything to put the artist down when called out. On this occasion, a friend of mine messaged me to break the news that Topshop have copied my Halloween Queen patch design, which is now three years old. There is a complete lack of respect from lots of big companies and small companies alike, they see popular designs online and want to grab them for themselves. Copyright infringement is serious and these brands need to be held accountable!"