My Official Break-Up With Anthropologie

On October 7, I wrote a post about how to copyright objects posted online in a post called “Copyright…or Wrong”. In that post, I wrote about some of the copyright laws that I was less familiar with and sites that you could use to safely and legally search and use digital files. I also mentioned an incident that I experienced when I made a couple of projects from a knitting book and posted them to my page to quickly sell them. Even though I gave the author of the book credit (at the time, I thought that was enough), she emailed me to remove my posts because the projects were copyrighted.

After publishing that post, I received a comment about how Anthropologie allegedly hires interns to search websites like for unique projects that are not copyrighted. Once these projects and items are found, Urban Outfitters, the company that owns Anthropologie, mass produces the item to sell in their stores. So, in short, Urban Outfitters (allegedly) takes advantage of artists by looking for their unprotected projects and stealing them to sell for profit with no credit given to the original creator.

I love everything that Anthropologie sells, so I did some research to see how popular and accurate these assumptions are. My heart was broken!

Here is one example of MANY that I was able to find. Attorney Oscar Michelen is currently leading a lawsuit for shoe designer Karen Kell against Urban Outfitters for “stealing” her trademarked shoe design from her page.  Kell was featured on The Martha Stewart Show in April of this year for her “Candy-Link” shoe design and her style has gained incredible popularity over the last four years. She is also in the process of expanding the sale of her shoes on a much larger scale, but due to Urban Outfitter’s release of the “Multi-Loop Shoe”, Kell may not be able to capitalize on her own design.

Karen Kell’s Etsy Screenshot:


Urban Outfitters Screenshot:


Kell and her lawyer, Michelen, had issued a “cease and desist” letter to request Urban Outfitters remove this design from their website and stores by May 18, 2012. While there is still no update on Attorney Oscar Michelen’s website, I cannot find the “Multi-Loop Shoe” on the Urban Outfitters website. Karen Kell may have won this case, but I don’t see an end to the Urban Outfitters theft any time soon.

It is so sad for me to say this, but I do not think I will be shopping at Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters again… or at least until they come up with a honest way of designing the products sold in their stores. From now on, when I am looking for one-of-a-kind creations, you will find me at supporting the little people!


One thought on “My Official Break-Up With Anthropologie

  1. Hi Lindsay,
    I comment your official break-up with Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. I always used to think the designs they had in their stores were so clever and original which I think is why both stores are so popular. I must admit that while I’ve known about the design theft for a year now, I have still found myself wondering into Anthropologie and buying a few things. It’s hard to decipher which designs were stolen and which designs are original there. Like we talked about in class, it seems as though most of the stolen designs are accessories like jewelry and shoes, but you just can’t be sure because there are so many sources from where they could be getting their designs that it’s near impossible to know whether the design your buying is the product of intellectual theft. After this whole discussion on copyrighting designs, I couldn’t help but think how many stores I buy from may also be participating in this sneaky design theft. I try to buy the majority of my groceries from my Sunday farmer’s market to support local farmers and bake shops, why shouldn’t I do the same thing with the clothes and accessories I buy? To be honest, the clothes at Anthropologie are so expensive, the argument that buying local or from small business is too expensive kind of goes out the window. I think that your boycott of Anthropologie has inspired me to start trying to buy from small designers when I’m looking for unique products instead of venturing to the overpriced chains. At least I’ll know that I’m getting original designs and that care has gone into the product I’m buying. After all, if I put something up on Etsy and it suddenly appeared in the window of one of my favorite stores, I would feel betrayed and cheated. I’m sure that’s what all those designer felt when they found out the designs they worked so hard to create had be so easily reproduced without their credit.

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