Niche fashion retailer Lonely Kids Club has highlighted the role of social media in its struggle with urban fashion brands Glue and JXcess, which have been accused of plagarising the start-up’s design.
Warwick Levy, founder of Sydney-based T-shirt retailer Lonely Kids Club, has accused JXcess of copying one of his designs before selling it exclusively to major fashion chain Glue.
In October last year, Levy says he released a T-shirt featuring the word “OVERRATED” in a triangle.
Several weeks ago JXcess released its own T-shirt of a similar design, featuring the word “OVERKILL”, via Glue.
Glue, which has apologised to Levy, has confirmed it will remove the T-shirt from its bricks-and-mortar and online stores.
Meanwhile, JXcess told StartupSmart the matter was “dealt with immediately” when it was brought to the company’s attention.
“We have spoken to all parties over the last 24 hours to resolve the matter,” it says.
Levy says the matter may never have been brought to light without the aid of social media, which, according to him, played a crucial rule in the process.
After being alerted to the plagiarism by a friend, Levy sent a message to Glue, which failed to respond.
“I decided there was nothing I could do, until my friend posted something on their [Facebook] wall. A few people got behind it, so I made a post on my personal Facebook [page],” he says.
“Overnight, I got nearly 100 people behind it, so Glue responded.”
Levy says social media has, to some extent, levelled the playing field between small brands and big brands.
“We do live in an age where people’s voices do get heard. If someone is doing something really unethical, you can post something on their wall, which people will see and get behind,” he says.
“Small designers getting bullied have the right to stand up for themselves and can take these brands on. At the end of the day, you have a voice.”
While Levy’s use of social media was successful in getting Glue’s attention, he described the ordeal as “terrifying”, encouraging other small businesses in similar situations to act fast.
“For me, personally, I think it’s very daunting putting yourself out there in the public sphere… Sticking up for yourself is really difficult sometimes,” he says.
“It’s terrifying when you go up against people who are much bigger than you. You have to believe in yourself and believe in justice, and stand up for what’s right.”
“If you are right, I think you eventually win.”