First up, a huge thank you for all the supportive comments we’ve received, both here, via email, and on our social media accounts. I was hugely worried putting that out there, knowing that it could maybe have upset people, or come across the wrong way. I know there were people who didn’t particularly care for our point of view, but the vast majority were totally supportive. Thank you.
In all the comments, there was one major recurring theme: many of you asked how to identify the prints we’ve been talking about. This is a huge minefield. Whilst I wish I could say “anything from… … Just avoid”, I can’t do that. Firstly, it was never my intention to hurt in any way the innocent shops that have been caught out buying a fabric they did not realise came with ‘baggage’. It’s hard enough being a fabric shop owner, without having to deal with this. (How do I know this? – I’ve been caught out before too.) Also it’s not just the fabrics from the one supplier – they aren’t the only ones doing it, just the one that was directly effecting me.
These are some points I will say, however.
1.) most of these copies won’t have any manufacturer details on the selvedges. If it is an Echino, Kokka or Alexander Henry fabric, it’s going to say it’s Echino, Kokka or Alexander Henry. As far as I know, the particular factory that these prints seem to come from hasn’t gone as far as ‘branding’ it’s fabrics. That’s not to say it, or someone else won’t, or hasn’t, but in this particular case, it hasn’t.
2.) you can’t always tell by the quality. As easy as it is to say the quality is worse on the copy, the sad fact is, in many cases, it is not. On some items, such as the Echino prints, where the original was on a cotton linen blend, yes, the quality is by no means as good, but on cotton sheeting, it sometimes can even be better. Sorry, but it seems we’re out of luck on that one.
3.) if it’s an great print, that you’ve seen about on people’s projects, or on blogs or social media, or even that you just think is really amazing, and you find it for an unbelievable price? Well, you’ve got the clues, may I suggest that you open your eyes.
4.) this is one slightly harder thing to say on the subject of price. Fabric costs money. Everything costs money. We know that most cheap things come at a price – usually the cost of workers in an Asian country. I’m not saying that all designer fabric is being produced ethically, with the workers all down the line being treated fairly (none of us are naive, and that’s a whole other kettle of fish we could get bogged down in) but hey, if its price to us is £6.99 as opposed to £12.99, that’s six quid we’ve lost down the pay line. So not about copies, but just sayin’.
5.) The only way we’re going to be able to know more, is by saying when we see them. The more people stand up and say – hang on, this isn’t right, then the more we can affect change. The reason I know this? More on that in a bit.
So the answer? I don’t have an answer. I know so many of the prints because I work in the industry, and I am a fabric freak. I love Japanese prints, and I do buy from a lot of the lesser known manufacturers, which may put me in a better position to identify than most. But really truly honestly? I can’t give you a tried and tested answer.
Another person did ask whether these prints had maybe been sold on, and therefore these prints were legitimate. Now, I know that it is common practise for some fabric manufacturers to sell on the printing plates after the print has passed its lifetime. I actually don’t know for sure about all the prints I’ve seen in the past, but I do know definitively that when you see a print that the original is out in the market place at the same time – this is not a legitimate reprint. I also gathered from the manufacturers responses that the copies of their fabrics were not legitimate, although of course in each case each company had to be careful about its responses legally.
Many of the responses to the blog did include the negative statement “I agree, but there’s not much we can do about it.” I disagree. There is something we can do about it. And to a small extent, we have done something, by the reactions of everyone to this blog.
Last week I spoke to Peter Louden, from John Louden, the company bringing in the copies. It was an interesting conversation, with some positive responses, although I do have to say, there are some questions that still remain unanswered.
The most important thing, is that the particular prints that were identified as copies, are now removed from sale. He admitted that he had dropped the ball when told previously about the copies, and I think had identified some Sevenberry prints that were copies, but not the others, so hadn’t pursued it further.
Having been alerted once again, and having spoken to the companies involved, he has now removed the prints that he can identify from sale. I asked how are they going to identify prints in the future – even offering help to do so – but his response is that he is going to become more ‘aware’ of the marketplace. I am not sure how far reaching this will be, especially as the focus was mainly on the larger companies, for example Kokka, and I think possibly the less-known worldwide companies (such as Cosmo Tex and Daiwabo) were ignored – surely these companies remain an easier target to copy.
I asked what he was going to do about these other prints in his collection that were copies – ones that I did not highlight here (there are others, space did not allow me to add them.) He said they were “not aware of any other designs with issues but will try to
identify. Naturally we hope there aren’t any and we would reiterate that
these designs represent a tiny part of our offer. We will do our best
to be more street wise.”
But by far the most positive response of all, in my opinion, is that they have recently employed an in house designer to create their own designs, which while obviously it won’t happen overnight, is a really positive step to having control over what you sell and your own creative brand.
It has come to my attention that in this wonderful industry there are some fabric shops, who have taken the decision to take these prints off their shelves. Please go and support them, as this decision will not have just been ethical, but financial. People like this deserve your support, they are the ones that make this industry great.
So while I am fully aware that it is all small pigeon steps, they are steps. Steps are good! It’s only by joining together and making these pigeon steps that we can let people know when the status quo just isn’t quite right.
Ha, listen to me, sounding all political. I’m not usually, you know. Honestly….