If you’ve been following Wanderlust + Co on Instagram, you would have seen the recent controversy surrounding copyright infringement.
The Malaysian jewelry brand, known for its consciously crafted jewelry, had its designs copied and sold by a fast fashion company from China called Shein. This event revealed a look at intellectual property (IP) theft and the reality of independent brands like Wanderlust + Co which were built on ethics and an appreciation for the care taken in creation.
Wanderlust + Co CEO and Founder Jenn Low told us, âIt was truly a heartbreaking experience, and we were quite disheartened as a team to see our efforts being passed off as someone else – from our designs to visual content being used to facilitate the sale of copies.
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For large and small brands in the fashion industry, imitation is not the highest form of flattery – especially when it comes to production. All Wanderlust + Co jewelry designs come from hand sketches before the concept was 3D molded and hand painted with an enamel finish. Copying and reselling at low prices raises concerns far beyond competitive pricing.
âOver the past few months, copies of our Original Tarot series have surfaced on various websites and online platforms, not all of which are affiliated with the Wanderlust + Co brand or our official business partners,â reveals Jenn.
In addition to the stolen designs, these stores had also used content from Wanderlust + Co’s website and social media platforms for fraudulent marketing purposes, masquerading the content as their own.
âMeanwhile, our customer service and social media teams have unfortunately received emails questioning the authenticity of our original pieces,â shares the CEO.
âAs an independent and local jewelry brand, our team takes great pride in consciously producing original products in a sustainable manner, working only with BSCI certified factories. All of our pieces are designed exclusively by our predominantly female team and are part of our globally registered intellectual property (IP). “
The problem of fast-fashion
Jenn revealed that Wanderlust + Co even received social media messages where customers questioned the originality and its products and prices. She tells us that her hope in discussing the vicious circle of trendy cut and paste is to create a better understanding and appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes to fuel an independent brand.
â(Our intention is) to emphasize that real people invest time, effort and energy into creating what we see on the digital front-end of brands,â she says.
While producing a new collection for Wanderlust + Co, Jenn says the parts go through months of development, ranging from hand sketches and drawing boards to 3D molds, production and wear testing. 30 days to guarantee quality and comfort.
Jenn adds, âOver the past 11 years, we’ve also come to understand the costs of producing sustainably and fairly paying the artisans who make our jewelry. Copies are sold at prices well below the actual costs of our products, not to mention other trade costs such as shipping, packaging to ensure products arrive safely, and our team’s livelihood. Wanderlust + Co that creates and powers everything you see on the front end. The prices at which copies are being sold are truly worrying and most likely made in sweatshops, using unsustainable methods and materials that are not friendly to our skin or the planet.
What can brands do to protect their products?
âRegister the copyright for your brand and design permanently,â advises the CEO. And if a brand finds itself in a similar situation, Jenn adds, âHire a reputable IP legal team or attorneys, and learn about your rights and how to exercise them, and how to defend your rights. Copyright. “
Jenn says brands should consider being transparent about the situation, to protect the integrity of their design and to communicate why these types of situations hurt brands and businesses. This philosophy-strategy is how and why Wanderlust + Co decided to start addressing the situation on social media.
The brand began creating and publishing content to help its customers distinguish between originals and fakes, informatively highlighting the importance of quality and what true quality entails.
âHonestly, we weren’t sure what to expect when we started sharing the situation publicly, and we’re so glad we did. It’s a huge relief, after months of dealing with this situation behind the scenes, to be able to tell our truth about the situation, âJenn shares with appreciation.
In terms of next steps, the company is working with its intellectual property attorneys to take legal action against said parties for infringement of its intellectual property and illegally distributing copies of Wanderlust + Co. products.
“We have been and will continue to reach out to those platforms and companies that sell the copies, to get them to do the right thing and remove the copies of designer and independent brand products that they profit from, including the our. Now is 2021, and platforms and businesses should step up and do better when it comes to championing and nurturing creative and original work. “
(All images: Wanderlust + Co)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia.