We all know it's wrong to plagarize, and most people wouldn't defend themselves if they were caught red-handed passing someone else's work off as their own. But on the other hand, it's considered fair game to mimc a celeb's fashion style, and maybe even complimentary—imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So where's the line between cool and uncool copycatting?
Maybe it has to do with whether said copycat is pulling in profits from said mimicry. Urban Outfitters was widely admonished in the Twittersphere this week for the striking similarity between its "I Heart Destination" jewelery line and independent designer Stevie Koerner's "World of Love" pendants (in which each piece is named along the lines of "I Heart New York" or "I Heart Kentucky"). Not only did the chain apparel store copy Koerner's designs—pendants in the shapes of states and countries, each with a heart cutout—but also borrowed from the language she used to describe the jewerly.
Because Koerner never copywrited or trademarked her designs, she probably wouldn't have had a strong case against Urban Outfitters. But this story ends well for her—and independent producers and artists everywhere, really.
The company, which has been accused of stealing from designers before, responded within a day to the requests of Tweeters to boycott Urban apparel and removed the jewelery in question from their online stores. The turnaround is being heralded as proof of the "power of social media for independent artists."
Best of all for Koerner, her jewelery has now been featured in tons of popular news sites, and such exposure is certain to be a benefit for any small artist.