Cotton On is facing renewed claims it is copying the designs of small businesses, with several Instagram users drawing attention to a Cotton On product that shares similarities with those of a Melbourne small business owner.
But the clothing and homewares retailer has again defended its practice of “trend forecasting” for developing new products and says it closely governs its design processes.
Light My Fire Melbourne owner Natalie Carter last night shared a photo of a candle by Cotton On brand Typo on the business’s Instagram account.
The candle features a clear glass holder and black square label with the words “Light My Fire” on the front in white, capital lettering.
The black-and-white colour scheme and the name are similar to those used by Carter for her handmade products.
Light My Fire Melbourne candles are also sold in clear glass holders and feature the words “Light My Fire”, followed by “Candle Co.” underneath.
Carter’s labels are black with white font, however, the labels are round.
Light My Fire Melbourne tagged Typo’s Instagram account in the post, along with the phrase “what’s good?”, but did not make any suggestion that the Typo product was a copy of her own candles.
Close to 70 people have liked the post and 11 Instagram users have left comments, with several shocked at the similarity between the Typo products and Carter’s.
A number of Instagram users suggested the larger retailer had modelled its product on Light My Fire Melbourne’s range of candles.
“Smells dirty to me,” said one user.
“I HATE when companies can’t think of their own ideas!” said another.
But a spokesperson for Cotton On told SmartCompany this morning “there was no inspiration taken from Light My Fire Melbourne’s candle design”.
As SmartCompany reported in July, Cotton On was accused of ripping off a soft toy designed by small boutique label, Udder.
The claims were part of a string of copycat claims by smaller designers, who came forwards with their stories of how larger retailers, such as Kmart and Target, had allegedly been ripping off their creations.
The Cotton On spokesperson told SmartCompany today the retailer has an in-house team of “trend forecasters and designers who scour the globe to ensure our products reflect current market trends”.
“In this instance, the decision to use the catch-phrase ‘Light my Fire’ was due to the nature of the product itself,” the spokesperson says.
“We closely govern our product design with a continued focus on training and educating our team at all stages of the design process”.
SmartCompany contacted Light My Fire Melbourne but did not receive a response prior to publication.
*This article was updated at 10.38am on October 14 to clarify the comments made on the Light My Fire Melbourne Instagram post.