Fashion and Plagiarism – The Case of Tatty Devine and Claire’s Accessories

Posted in Fashion, Writing.

Last week, the internet was ablaze with fashionable fury after independent jewellery designers Tatty Devine posted this on their blog. The post compares their own designs with pieces bought from high street chain Claire’s Accessories, and the results are clear to see. The post sparked outrage on social media (as did Claire’s terrible handing of the backlash – deleting comments and blocking users is NOT the way to go!), but it was Hayley’s post that got me thinking about the issue in a wider sense.

There have been lots of cases of plagiarism in fashion because the aspects that make up iconic designs – prints, colours, shapes – are so hard to protect. Should Louboutin’s shade of red be made for exclusive use on his own soles? He thinks so. And Tiffany think the same about their duck egg blue. So when does a design cross the line from simple inspiration into copycat territory?

Fake Louie
Image from Justin Ornella’s Flickr

In my mind, a copycat is something that attempts to imitate the original. Like the LV bags hanging from market stalls, ‘Burberry’ check baseball caps with tracksuits and YSL Arty rings for £5.99, it’s this kind of plagiarism that cheapens luxury brands. In comparison, Miu Miu featured animal printed pieces in their SS10 collection which eventually filtered down to the high street and became a big hit for brands like New Look. The dresses and blouses sold on the high street weren’t direct copies of Miu Miu’s styles, and they weren’t pretending to be actual Miu Miu designs. That animal print started on the catwalk and formed a trend for the season, shaping collections from both ends of the fashion spectrum.

What do you think about plagiarism in the fashion industry? Is it an exploitation of talent, or something to be expected from one of the world’s biggest businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.



I definitely don’t agree with it happening, but at the same time it’s something that is very very difficult to prevent, and after seeing it happen a lot it’s the kind of thing you should almost come to expect.. The high street is full of copycat antics, it’s sadly the way the fashion world seems to work, as well as being the only way most of us can afford to wear the trends!

Apt Pupil

Plagiarism is obviously a touchy subject everywhere (we’re constantly being warned against it at uni); personally, I think the only problem is when something is a direct, obvious copy of something else. It’s a sad but true fact that nothing is original anymore, so copies do occur on the highstreet, but, at the risk of sounding like Gok Wan, I think that they are simply making designer inspired prints more accessible and affordable to the masses. The blatent copying done by Claire’s is unacceptable really, but then again Tatty Devine can’t expect their designs to stay their designs. It’s just the way the fashion industry is headed nowadays; everybody wants the feel of a designer brands, without the sky-high price tags.

Frances Brown

The fashion industry has always had a filter down effect with slight changes and duplications appearing on the high street. These duplications are also seen more now shops like primark and river island etc. buy designs from large companies meaning that the same fabrics and cuts end up all over the high street with different labels.

I think there is a difference from taking inspiration from high end couture that can’t be purchased, afforded or really ‘worn’ by the general public and copying pieces that are on sale and available. In this way they are a direct threat to sales in the way that a 3,000 pound dress is not in competition with a 30 pound knock off as their customer base is very different (although these copies can be detrimental to brand values).

In the case of Tatty Devine, when I worked there 8 years ago they were having a similar issue of being copied only this time by a very high end fashion house, this shows that the ‘inspiration’ can go two ways. It is so high profile because of social media and maybe now after all these years and with their loyal fan base Tatty Devine really have a chance of fighting it.


It is so embarrassing and damaging for Claire’s Accessories – they have never been leaders and will always be followers but this is taking it to the extreme. People will still shop there, they cater for those who want disposable fashion accessories and morally will this stop us?

Taking inspiration from someone’s work is the cycle of design and creativity. The best fashion houses in the world are inspired by films, art, each other even. Inspiration – a nod to the success of an original concept. Plagiarism – a message that you yourself are not capable of such success.


Amy Jessica

I couldn’t believe the tatty devine and claire’s story, it was so blatant that claire’s were copying them, in some cases almost exactly the same! I hope TD take legal action. Lovely post 🙂
much love


Plagiarism is difficult to handle but I think that the designers should in some ways expect it. Not everyone can afford the D&Gs and the Miu Mius of this world and so they will go and find cheaper imitations.

On the other hand though it can go too far and I think that’s what’s happened here. After all if Claire’s hadn’t copied the designers they would have probably handled the case much better than they did.


I don’t think it is right (although we get very similar for much cheaper prices), but is it clever? Yes.

Ginger Pickle

I couldn’t believe how much Claire’s Accessories was copying Tatty Devine. I think it’s pretty outrageous, what happened to trying to be original and focusing your time on coming up with something new? I think Claire’s spent way to much time trying to copy Tatty (just going to use their first names lol sounds funny) and they should have came up with designs of their own. Very bad PR for Claire’s right now, they better have a good crisis management plan. I can’t see them getting out of this one though…

Ginger Pickle ♥


I think the case of plaguarism in fashion is a bit of a grey area – it’s rife but in an odd way it’s not really seen as a ‘problem’.


I think with fashion there is always going to be copies because not everyone can afford amazing pieces at those steep prices however I think iconic things like the red sole, a Tiffany box or a designer handbag should not be copied. I see it as a sense of achievement when I can afford a timeless piece like that X

xx Nicki (home bird)xx

I’ve read a lot about this ‘scandal’. I just think it’s a huge thing for Tatty Devine and can be turned into something so positive for them. (For a start, I am now aware of the brand and I wasn’t before so they have received enormous amounts of publicity already.) I don’t agree with the production of counterfeit items at all, I think it’s lazy and unimaginative but obviously there are big bucks to be made.

We all know that you can buy fakes the world over but does it make the original less desirable? Inevitably the fakes are poorly made in lesser quality material. In the case of the TD necklaces I think it’s perfectly obvious which are the originals and which are the [poor] fakes.

If anything is any good it will be copied – always has been and that’s how fashion works in my opinion. I know that for a small operation it must, at first, be devastating to see products almost identical to your own sold much more cheaply but then I think you need to make it work to your advantage.

Sorry for the whopping comment – waffled on a bit didn’t I. Feel free to delete me! I’m pretty passionate about this. Ha!

Nicki xx


Claire’s were clearly doing something that is wrong – stealing the designs of other designers. However I do think the grey area in fashion is almost opaque – virtually identical versions of catwalk clothes and accessoeies turn up in high street stores all the time and retailers like Topshop and ASOS get away with doing it as long as there are very small differences.


I personally don’t agree with it, the reason these brands are ‘luxury’ is because someone has spent a huge amount of time and money to create these pieces so why should high street brands use the designs to recreate ready and available fashion for a cheaper price therefore cheapening the original brand!
But having said that I do believe that no matter what industry you are in you should expect plagiarism as that’s just the way our world works!


It is wrong wrong wrong. But if you are the ones leading the way, doing things beautifully, first and with creativity and flair, you will always be one step ahead of those who can only copy.

Claire || Sitting Pretty

For me I think Claire’s can’t be entirely blamed, as I’m pretty sure the majority of people representing them weren’t aware of the copying. It can be simply down to one designer using Tatty Divine as ‘inspiration’ ahem, that then goes on to destroy the whole company’s reputation. The problem is that of course the blame WILL be on the brand as a whole, and I suppose you could say that people there are turning a blind eye, or not researching enough to be careful they are not taking anyone else’s designs. I think with something like a designer brand’s stuff being filtered down could be seen as just as bad, but these brands are in our faces so often that it is bound to happen. However, I don’t agree with it, and did some stuff about this in my dissertation at uni. No one can stop it, unfortunately. It’s such a shame it happened to such a great brand like Tatty Divine. I’ve started making my own jewellery and I’m so aware of other people’s work and checking up that my pieces aren’t the same as other’s!


That is horrible. I don’t think that Claire’s would do that, but it was obvious in the post that they where plagiarizing. Can’t people have their own great ideas?


It is indeed a fine line to draw, and I think in that post it was quite blatant that Claire’s had completely ripped off the Tatty Devine pieces. Like you, I believe stealing ideas is very wrong, however using other people’s products as inspiration is fine.
That being said, it’s not always that easy of a distinction…
For example, looking through Tatty Devine’s other jewellery, I came across this:

Would this be considered a copy of, or inspired by, Louis Vuitton?
Sure, the actual text on the envelope is different, but the idea is the same.

I will be studying copyright a bit more in depth next year, so I’m looking forward to having a proper legal perspective on it.

I think generally though, that designers and retailers should steer clear of stealing other people’s work. It just screams out to consumers that the brand has zero creativity.


Laura loop

Hi Jen,

Thanks for another great post. I’ve noticed this kind of thing before in relation to Eclectic Eccentricity- who I love- as you constantly see remarkably similar and worse quality designs on the high street.

The argument that the high street simply makes things more affordable is just not applicable. We’re not talking about a lusted after Mulberry bag (not that that makes copying ok… just maybe more understandable). Companies like Eclectic Eccentricity are generally affordable. Copy designs are likely to maybe manage to knock three or four pounds off. It just seems so unjust what a chain across Britain stocks something obviously ripping off a less well-known, internet-based company.

Thanks again,


Really interesting post Jen, loved Hayley’s thoughts on it also.
I think as you say taking inspiration from the catwalk is fine, but when items are copied down to the last dinosaur bone in Tatty Devine’s case then you’ve got a problem.


Those Claires knock offs are completely ridiculous! They have stolen the Tatty Devine designs completely, especially shocked at the dinosaur necklace!

I agree that there is a difference between forming a trend and being copied. I think if another retailer has taken elements of a design as inspiration that’s fine, but to make a downright copy is out of order.

Minimum Mouse

I have sympathy for Tatty Devine, and I think that the dinosaur necklace in particular is a clear case of plaigarism. However, the designs such as the moustache and glasses are really popular and generic motifs which can be seen on all kinds of products which are made by large and small companies alike. I very much doubt they were the first people ever to put them on necklaces, and even if they were it would be pretty much impossible to prove they were first. And even if they were first, it’s hardly inconceivable that another person could come up with the same idea completely independently, without even knowing that Tatty Devine exist. So it is a very awkward issue, and very awkward to prove also. I make and sell jewellery and know, for example, that Eclectic Eccentricity, use many of the same charms and components as other jewellery companies including myself, I’m pretty sure I must have bought from some of the same suppliers they use. So most of the companies you may think are copying them are actually just using the same components – that isn’t copying as those charms are commercially available and made for the purpose of making jewellery. This isn’t intended as a criticism of Eclectic Eccentricity as I really like their collection, but I think it highlights how hard it can be to distinguish between copying, inspiration and general trends producing similar work from various designers.

Ms Wanda

I once met a fashion buyer from a major UK retail group (who shall remain nameless) and she said it was common practice to steal from smaller designers and widely accepted within High Street design teams. Tatty Devine was specifically mentioned as one label they would steal from. When I asked her whether she thought it was wrong she shrugged and said: “Everyone does it, and our legal team is bigger than theirs.”


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