Spot the difference: Zara accused of stealing local brand MaXhosa's design
Thebe Ikalafeng, founder of award-winning brand advisory firm, Brand Leadership, has called fashion retailer Zara out on social media for what he says is "intellectual property theft" of a print by local label MaXhosa by Laduma.
Laduma Ngxokolo, the designer behind MaXhosa by Laduma, is hailed as one of South Africa's brightest sartorial stars. He's famed for his contemporary knitwear creations, which feature vibrant prints inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork.
In an Instagram post, Ikalafeng said that Zara had "shamelessly copied the design" of the pattern that appears on MaXhosa by Laduma's Khanyisa cardigan and MSOCK3.1 socks on one of their products.
He called for the local designer to take action, saying: "As a global #African I understand that inspiration is global and no one has universal rights, but theft on the other hand should be universally condemned.
"We appreciate that Africa’s rich culture is now ‘en vogue’ but not at all costs. But our protected intellectual property rights should be respected as much as we respect that of other global brands.
"#Maxhosa and all Africans should not take this lying down."
Appropriation or appreciation? I’d say this is just daylight @maxhosa intellectual property theft by @zara. There’s a big difference between taking inspiration and illegal expropriation. #Maxhosa designed and launched this #Khanyisa cardigan and sox (slide left) range globally 2014. In 2018 @zara shamelessly copied the design as is and put in retail in earlier this month. As a global #African I understand that inspiration is global and no one has universal rights, but theft on the other hand should be universally condemned. We appreciate that Africa’s rich culture is now ‘en vogue’ but not at all costs. But our protected intellectual property rights should be respected as much as we respect that of other global brands. #Maxhosa and all Africans should not take this lying down. If they can do this to a relatively well known brand like @maxhosa you can imagine what they’ve been doing to lesser known designers with little resources or recourse. Everybody in Design and retail knows it’s the foundation of Zara to replicate and sell quickly - and perhaps apologize. Fast fashion straight from the (others’) runway is how there’re fashioned. But it does not mean we all have to accept it. We should all stand up and reject such blatant intellectual property expropriation and theft. #ThebeOnBrands
Social media users were quick to weigh in on the appreciation versus appropriation debate. Some criticised Zara, others pointed out that they're not the only retail brand to reference other designer's work in their ranges:
Do not get mad at Zara, Mr Price (amongst many others) beenT copying these expensive brands and I been getting my life... at a cheaper price. Also, is it not what these retail stores do vele? Giving us the same or similar items but at cheaper prices. I’m not mad. Won’t be futhi.— Tshepo (@tshepol_) April 23, 2018
They do it to everyone. Remember that faux Yeezy Season 4 Collection they had? Lol! They recreate runway looks to sell to the public. Zara won a case against Louboutin in 2012! Imagine THAT!.... Sad! Heartbreaking. 💔— Bonang B* Matheba (@bonang_m) April 23, 2018
If we’re gonna be technical about the MaXhosa and Zara, Laduma doesn’t own the diamond/argyle print. However, the deliberate use of the SPECIFIC COLOURS used by Zara are blatantly copied from MaXhosa.— Aya Gwanya (@aya_gwanya) April 24, 2018
Business Insider South Africa reports that the local fashion brand is pursuing legal action against Zara for copyright infringement.