Myer faces legal battle over design reproduction claims

Myer has been accused of reproducing designs featured on a fashion start-up’s website, with two US designers set to launch legal action against the retail giant.


Kathryn Heaven is the founder of Style and Substance, an online retailer providing plus-size women with the latest fashions from overseas designers.


Heaven says she received an order for 10 garments on March 2. The order was placed by a person believed to be a buyer for Myer’s plus-size fashion range.


According to Heaven, the staffer presented herself as a customer, submitting a private email address as part of her purchasing information but listing Myer’s head office as the delivery address.


Last week, Heaven says she was “gob-smacked” to discover five of the designs had been reproduced and were on display at Myer’s Bankstown store under Australian label Leona Edmiston, which recently launched a plus-size line in partnership with the department store.


According to Heaven, the reproduced designs belong to US plus-size labels Kiyonna and Igigi, neither of which could be reached for comment.


“[At the time,] I did not know the [reproduced] clothing had been purchased from me but when I Googled (the name of the buyer), I put two and two together,” Heaven says.


“I rang (the buyer) on Monday [July 25] and she acknowledged she did buy the garments from me. She said she purchased all of those garments to supplement her own wardrobe but she was ‘inspired’ to reproduce them.”


“(The buyer) advised me she was going to speak with Myer’s legal department.”


Heaven believes Myer has breached her company’s terms and conditions, which state: “The items available on our site are for retail sale only and may not be offered for immediate re-sale or used as a template for reproduction for either personal or commercial gain”.


She has also been in contact with the two US designers, claiming both are prepared to launch legal action against Myer.


“Inspiration is drawn from a flower or landscape, not from purchasing a garment with the sole purpose of assessing it and making sufficient modifications so that you don’t get caught,” Heaven says.


“I would challenge that when 50% of the garments have found their way into [another] store, it was never the intention that those garments were for personal use.”


Heaven says she has never encountered this kind of problem with Myer or any other retailer in the past.


“I’ve been advised [the designs are] available Australia-wide. My customers have indicated they’ve seen them in other states,” she says.


According to Heaven, the designs have also been featured in a Myer sales catalogue and will appear at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week later this month.


Myer spokesperson Steven Carey says the company was in contact with Heaven last week, inviting her to put her concerns in writing.


“To date, we haven’t received anything from Kathryn or any other businesses,” Carey says.


“If Kathryn or any other businesses – whether Australian or US-based – believe that they have some sort of legal recourse against Myer, it’s not appropriate for Myer to comment on them in the media.”


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