When DIY goes too far: Is it fair to copy any brand?

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When DIY goes too far: Is it fair to copy any brand

Being in trend without spending too much money is an ideal situation. That’s why DIY projects are like a dream come true. Because as much as you like this or that paining, or a specific decor piece, if it’s out of your budget, it’s out of your home, too.

With DIY projects, you can make it yourself and probably save a bit of money, too. But does DIY ever go too far? Is it ever fair to copy a brand or artist, however big or small?

What’s the difference between being inspired by someone and copying someone?

In an age where nearly everyone is online, it’s inevitable that we’re going to get inspired and influenced by other people and brands. That goes for everything from style to interior design to art. What’s more, if you have an idea, chances are, at least one other person has had that same idea, too.

And with trends and style movements coming and going, it’s easy to see how products tend to evolve according to what’s in vogue at the moment. It’s like being influenced (and maybe even inspired) by what’s happening around you and online.

Copying someone or something is a little different though. It’s much more deliberate and intentional. For example, if you see a painting from the original artist, you know that a lot of time and effort went into creating that unique piece of art. Not to mention that this one-of-a-kind piece is something which stems from the artist herself.

A DIY for that same painting is like taking this piece and putting it in an industrial factory, where it’s reproduced cheaply. All because you want it, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it.

Are Pottery Barn knock offs okay?

It’s easy to get Pottery Barn envy. Their rustic, clean design is a dream for many homeowners. But let’s be honest, the steep price is a major deterrent for some people. And as a response, people turn to Pottery Barn DIY’s to get the same style at a much lower price.

Bedstands, rope chandeliers, blanket ladders, storage units, coffee tables, mason jar lamp pendants, rope-wrapped mirrors and so much more: you don’t even need to step inside your nearest Pottery Barn for these items.

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You only have to go as far as your Pinterest account to do it yourself.

But is this stealing someone else’s idea? And does this sort of “craftsmanship” edge toward unethical behavior?

DIY Anthropologie Jewelry Hacks

If you have the time and patience to make an Anthropologie knock off necklace, it means several things.

Firstly, you’re probably very talented, and could probably make your own unique jewelry pieces.

But perhaps the reason why people make DIY Anthropologie jewelry is to fit in and go with the flow, rather than explore their own inspirations and ideas.

Top brands copy independent artists, too

While we’re discussing DIY’s that people to try so they don’t have to buy, it’s worth discussing the same problem reversed. You see, we tend to think that big brands are the only ones being copied. But Pottery Barn and Anthropologie DIY’s aren’t the only knock offs hitting the market.

Let’s take a look at fast fashion mega company, Zara, for example. Many have come to believe that Zara has “blatantly plagiarized” the artwork of many independent artists, like Tuesday Bassen, who said in a tweet, “You know what? Sometimes it sucks to be an artist because companies like @zara consistently rip you off and deny it.”

The same issue happened to artists by the names of Cry Wolf Clothing and Sam Larson. Whether it was cute pins or t-shirts, it seems that Zara picked up these original and creative ideas and used them in their own products.

In the end, these sort of business tactics allows Zara to create cheap pieces that are still in trendy. And this doesn’t apply to Zara alone. Brands like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Pac Sun have all been accused of this same thing.

An artist would post their original work to their respective social media platform, and they’d see their same design, pattern or motif show up in the merchandise of these billion-dollar companies.

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Big brands steal from other top brands

Forever 21 doesn’t just seem to go after indie artists though. Gucci filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 for using their iconic stripe pattern. Zara also got into trouble with high fashion brand, Celine, for using a similar design.

And Zara was even sued by Christian Louboutin when they sold their own version of his famous red-soled stiletto’s.

Does it matter if people and brands copy each other?

When Zara responded to Tuesday Bassen regarding their alleged plagiarism, one of their defenses was that they are a large company and she, on the other hand, isn’t well known. And millions of consumers shop at Zara (or Forever 21), and they’ll never see or hear of Tuesday Bassen and her original work.

Does that make it okay, however? Do big brands negatively impact the business and success of indie artists like Tuesday Bassen and others?

It’s difficult to say, but one thing’s for sure: if people can buy the same thing (or nearly the same thing) for less money, they usually do, and this could lead to a decrease in profits for these independent creatives.

If you think DIY’s and copying goes too far, here’s what you can do

You might be just one person in a big world, but where you spend your money matters. If you want to support independent artists, consider visiting Shop Art Theft, where you can see original pieces alongside the alleged copies. You get to decide where you want to buy the pieces you see.

When it comes to big brands, it’s not always easy to figure out if they’re products are designed by their own team, or if they’re finding their inspiration elsewhere.

But whenever possible, do your best to buy original pieces, instead of dupes and knock offs.

By doing these things, you can fill your home and wardrobe with higher-quality goods that sit well with your conscience.


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