Feb 6, 2017
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Small designer protests fast fashion with fake H&M shirts

Feb 6, 2017

Designer Warren Lotas is striking back against fast fashion retailers with a free release of a bootleg t-shirt. The New York streetwear designer announced on Wednesday that he would be releasing a bootleg “Warren Lotas x H&M” shirt for free outside a Los Angeles H&M location.

Warren Lotas's H&M bootleg - Warren Lotas

The shirt features one of Lotas’ signature illustrations beside an H&M logo, all printed on a plain white t-shirt. The shirt is not authorized by H&M.

“They think they can bootleg small designers, so I figured I'd return the favor," said Lotas.

Small designers have been at the mercy of fast fashion brands, with many indie designers having unique products turned into lower-priced, fast-fashioned replicas. Brother Vellies’ founder and designer Aurora James posted a photo on her Instagram of a Zara shoe that was nearly identical (save for the sustainably sourced leather and fur that is Brother Vellies’ calling card), to a shoe from James’ recent collection.

The lines of copycatting are so blurred that unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for this to happen. Lotas and James are just two of hundreds of designers whose designs have been found on the shelves of fast-fashion retailers like Zara, Topshop, and H&M.

Large brands like Alexander Wang, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Nike, MaMara, and Gucci have filed design patents to their designs as a form of protection against imitators. But these patents are difficult to acquire – to register a trade dress infringement, the brand must prove that the trade dress has acquired distinctiveness in the marketplace, a feat that is tough for a smaller brand to prove.

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