Sweater designs by a local independent business appear to have been copied by a U.S.–based fashion chain with a history of copyright infringement lawsuits.
Richmond family-run company Granted Clothing, which has operated since 1978, makes hand-knitted clothing items.
Granted co-owner Brian Hirano discovered an Instagram photo of a sweater that resembled his company's own design but was purchased at Forever 21. He soon found out that Forever 21 was selling two cardigans, one with a bear pattern (which it describes as a "unique zip-up cardigan") and the other with a whale design (which the company describes as a nod "to seafaring Nordic style"), that looked like replications of his own company's products.
The Granted sweaters, made of wool, take about 20 hours to knit by hand and sell for approximately $385 to $410. The Forever 21 cardigans, made of an acrylic-wool blend, cost $47.90.
Forever 21 has faced numerous copyright-infringement lawsuits launched by designers, including Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui, Trovata, and more.
Hirano told the CBC that he contacted Forever 21 but did not hear back from them.
Granted posted this message on its Facebook page, along with the above photo:
A short message from the designers:
As independent business owners and designers of our garments we feel it is important to inform you of an unfortunate and ongoing problem in our industry. This utter lack of respect has literally left us shaking our heads in disbelief.
On the left are imitations of our designs and on the right are our original designs made here in our Vancouver design studio. They are blatant copies of our designs, right down to the colours used.
Local brands like us work day in and day out to create and sustain something unique and original only to find our designs taken and used without consent. We are not the only ones being exploited by large companies who clearly have no business morals.
The pressure to feed this trending "fast fashion" machine is pervasive and people are contracted by these big companies to scour the internet to find original designs without any regard, make a profit and offer no compensation to the original designers. They do not see the negative ripple effect they cause, only looking at short term profits and do not value a sustainable business structure. This tarnishes the original brand and identity which sometimes takes years or decades to create.
Our company has managed to overcome many obstacles and will continue to move forward. In order to help us take a stand we ask that you share this with your friends and always be aware of your future purchases.
Thank you for your continued support!
+The Granted Family+
The company has since received an outpouring of supportive comments online, which they expressed thanks for.