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Taking a different approach to copies

There are two breeds of copiers: trend scouts who watch designers like hawks, have an instinct for the commercial and a talent for picking the winners; and style stealers, who copy designs and then present them as their own.

I don’t let it ruffle my feathers. As they say, copying is the sincerest form of flattery and if the high street picks up your design then you know you have something with mass appeal.

Copying makes me think harder about our designs and impels me to steer away from the obvious. Love From Australia’s designs and names are registered trademarks, but when dealing with the copiers, the flatterers and the mimics, the legal process is demanding of time, energy and money. Litigation always creates negative energy, so I changed my strategy.

I make contact with the copiers, in the form of a polite note to acknowledge their ‘tribute’ and request that they remove it from their collection or credit their inspiration. I offer to play nicely with the bigger players and ask them to retail Love From Australia’s range of sheepskin boots and accessories in return for an agreement not to copy or buy copies of our styles. After all, if they don’t sell our brand they will just sell another version. We keep our numbers tight, restrict the styles to those available to multiples and keep the directional stuff for the indies.

I will continue to work with quality materials, invent new hard to copy features and stay true to my belief that designers must protect the exclusivity of their brands while still giving the trend scouts something to spot and the style stealers a run for their money. Catch me if you can.

Tara Knapp is the founder and designer of sheepskin brand Love From Australia

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