Marks and Spencer accused of 'ripping off' pyjama design by Tootsa MacGinty
Retailer dragged into copycat design row over one of Tootsa MacGinty's most popular items of clothing
Susie Mesure writes interviews, news and features for the Independent on Sunday, Independent and i, and has done for the last ten years or so give or take two lengthy maternity leaves. She is interested in just about any topic, especially anything Scandinavian, food, or consumer-orientated, and used to be the Independent’s Retail Correspondent
Sunday 31 August 2014
One is a retail giant and staple of children's wardrobes across the UK; the other, a fledgling kids' clothing designer fighting to break into one of the most competitive areas of the high street. But that hasn't stopped Marks & Spencer from being dragged into a copycat design row over one of Tootsa MacGinty's most popular items of clothing.
Several shoppers contacted Kate Pietrasik, who set up Tootsa MacGinty three years ago, after spotting a familiar bear face on M&S boys' pyjamas on sale in stores in Newcastle and Brighton.
Like the Tootsa MacGinty design, the M&S bear's muzzle opens up to reveal some sharp teeth. Both wide-eyed images are on a red background.
Ms Pietrasik is seeking legal advice about her rights but would like M&S to stop selling the product, which she described as a "blatant copy". She added: "M&S is supposed to be this proud British high street store that we all love and support. They've even launched a Best of British range. But they have no qualms about ripping off a little, independent British designer. I'm gutted," she told The IoS. "If only they'd approached me to do a collection for them."
The copycat design was seen in one of M&S's Newcastle stores on Tuesday. M&S, which controls 6.4 per cent of the UK's estimated £1.5bn childrenswear market, has been struggling to turn around its clothing sales. A spokesman said: "We take claims of this nature seriously and are looking into it. We have asked Kate Pietrasik to make contact with us." He added that the design was a limited run on sale in a handful of stores and not online.
A promotional image from Tootsa MacGinty It is not the first time M&S has been embroiled in such a controversy. In 2006, the company removed a handbag from its shelves after a legal challenge by designer label Jimmy Choo. And, in 2012, it stopped selling a range of flower-print clothes after a young designer spotted designs that were "strikingly similar" to her own on M&S shelves.
Ms Pietrasik, a single mother, started her label because she was depressed by the high street's gendered approach to children's clothing. "I didn't want pink and sparkles for Ruby [her daughter]. And camouflage, monsters, trucks and T-shirts saying 'I'm naughty' limit what a boy can be." Dresses apart, her designs are unisex.
"I'd love to think I'm influencing people," she said. "But it's different when it's a blatant copy."
This is the second time her bear's face has been used by another retailer. A shopper contacted her last year from Australia after seeing the same bear face on sale at the department store group Myer.
"It was another cheap and nasty copy. They do such a bad job!" After she got a lawyer involved, Myer agreed to discontinue the line.
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Antonio Martin shooting: Black teenager may have tried to ambush patrolman, says police officer's lawyer
Orphan kangaroos spend Christmas without their parents
Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Isis 'did not shoot down Jordan war plane' before capturing pilot, says US
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...