While it may seem like fast fashion giants ripping of the little guy is a somewhat recent development, fakery, copies, and counterfeit items have been an unfortunate reality of the fashion industry for centuries now—long before serial sartorial thieves H&M and Zara hit the scene.
What’s made the recent slew of rip offs more insidious and problematic then appropriation and mimicry in times gone by is the lightning speed with which fast fashion operates. If the $300 pair of sneakers you just blew your savings on turned up in Topshop as an only vaguely modified form just a few weeks later, you’d be feeling pretty bummed right? Granted, much of sneaker culture is about exclusivity and being one of the lucky few to cop a certain new release, but if hundreds of people can purchase a pair that at first glance appears to be exactly the same as the real deal, that sneaker’s image inevitably becomes a little tarnished.
In a recent example of this, the Puma x Forever 21 lawsuit (where Forever 21 has rightfully been accused of unashamedly ripping of the Rihanna designed range of Puma footwear) is heating up, with Puma serving Forever 21 with a design patent, copyright infringement, and trade dress lawsuit over the Rihanna designed Bow Slide, Fur Slide, and Creeper designs. In the competitive, high pressure world of sneaker design, it’s no wonder that certain styles and designs stand out from the pack to become iconic bestsellers, leaving creatively lacking brands and companies scrabbling for a slice of that sweet sneaker pie, even if it’s not even really their pie to begin with. Take a look below at a selection of recent, often embarrassingly blatant, sneaker rip offs that have sparked legal action.
- Words: Cait Emma Burke