Monday, May 30, 2011

So...Urban Outfitters steals - Tia

I'm a huge fan of the underdog. As a self professed geek, I've never really considered myself particularly cool. I was popular enough in high school mostly because I pretty much befriended anyone. But the people who I usually found most endearing were the folks that fell into the "sub-group" category of popularity. They were my fellow math/science/Star Wars geeks. We were kindred spirits who may not have hung out together, but still were able to acknowledge each other's eccentricities. 

As I got older, I went through a phase of shunning the cool kids. Nashville is teeming with the hipster, club, "too cool for school anything" crowd. And for a while, I made a point of not going where they were or doing what they did. It was mostly out of disdain for their pretension. I guess I still just preferred the geeky underdog. So while I do now have friends who look like they fell out of a Williamsburg brownstone, the people I heart the most are probably a little nerdy (not faux hipster nerdy, real "I read graphic novels" nerdy) like me. 

And since the nerdy often fall into the underdog category, I often find myself championing the underdog. I like it when the little guy wins. So when a Goliath comes in and tries to bogart its way onto the scene, I'm not okay with just standing by and letting it happen. 

Meet Stevie. She's a jewelry designer based out of Chicago who did something that a lot of us would be too scared to do. She quit her 9-5 to pursue her passion of making jewelry. One of the main staples of her line, and one of the biggest income generators, are her  "The World/United States of Love" necklaces. Formed in the shape of states of the US and countries around the world, the necklaces with a heart cut of the middle are among the top sellers for this independent artist. So you can image after literally putting her heart into her designs how crushing it must have been when she found out that Urban Outfitters had stolen her designs. 

Urban Outfitters

Stevie's line

Here's a link to Stevie's blog with a screen capture of Urban's Page and more on the story. 

I don't know a lot about fashion but I would assume there is a bit a theft across the board. I assume it's just the nature of the industry. I'm not saying it's right, but I'm not sure how it would be avoided. But this seems to be grand larceny. I mean, UO stole the design, the name and some of Stevie's copy. That's pretty brazen. And apparently, this isn't the first time. I guess if you do something often enough you become okay with it, regardless of how morally incorrect it may be. 

From what I've gathered, the backlash against UO was swift and intense. The Twitterverse picked up the story and even Miley Cyrus was tweeting about it. With a million followers, that's a big deal. Urban, of course, denied the allegations, but has since pulled the necklaces from their site. (That seems a bit suspicious, no?)

Thanks to all of the publicity, Stevie has seen a huge spike in orders and people are not only vowing to spread the word about her jewelry but also to boycott Urban Outfitters for their shady business practices. While I've only shopped at UO a handful of times and find their sister brands Anthropologie and Free People to be nothing more than over priced hippy clothes (Sorry Toya), this story has made me think twice about ever shopping with them again. I'm sure they won't miss my paltry monetary contributions. But if the outrage that sprung up for this one independent jewelry designer remains, UO Inc. may see a hit in their bottom line. And maybe that's what they need. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to place an order for an "I heart England" necklace. My anglophilia demands it. 

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