Just a few weeks ago, it came to light that like many other big, unsustainable fast fashion brands, Pretty Little Thing has been ripping off smaller artist and sustainable underwear brand PeachyV.
Situations like this have been becoming, sadly, common place over the last year. There have been many incidences of greenwashing by brands like ASOS, Shein, H and M and PLT, who have also either stolen designs, or used seemingly very similar designs, or claimed their production of a specific item is ‘ethical or environmentally friendly’.
So, I wanted to speak to Katie Bradley, the East Midlands woman who works behind the scenes to create the stunning garments that PeachyV sell ethically, to hear her frustration at how Pretty Little Thing have created these look-alike products.
Her designs are beautiful, with simple art that has a strong, body positive effect and they often have a political theme to them.
“The ideas for my designs are always inspired by things that are important to me. So the ‘my body my rules’ set was inspired by women’s rights, especially sexual and reproductive rights. Once I have my idea I work with a production company who help me to turn my ideas into a physical product.”
The shock of PLT creating this look-alike product came suddenly, Katie explained: “PLT were running an Instagram ad for the collection so a lot of my followers were seeing the ad and sending me screenshots”.
This lead to confusion, with these Breast Cancer Awareness Month undergarments being sold by PLT (where only a minuscule percentage of money was going to charity), being created much like all of their other products, fast and cheap.
PeachyV however create ethical and environmentally friendly products.
“I use GOTS certified organic cotton, as well as organic dyes. I’ve also made sure all of the packaging is as eco-friendly as it can be. Obviously I can’t speak for PLT in terms of their costs. What I do know, is that my cost per unit for each set is more than PLT are selling the finished set for. Which means if I sold my set for the same price, I would make a loss from every sale, I wouldn’t even breakeven.”
It is difficult to see, therefore how these products could be made without sweat shop labour or non-environmentally friendly materials, despite being a charity product, let alone how they could have sourced a designer to create an ‘original’ design.
Katie, is understandably frustrated by this:
“It’s really frustrating seeing big brands profiting off ideas that have been taken from small businesses. Its especially upsetting seeing a design that was initially inspired by women’s rights, being recreated by a brand who exploit their, mostly female, garment workers.”
When will big brands be held truly accountable? At what point will brands like this take responsibility for the theft of designs and the promotion of fast fashion?
Please make sure to support small businesses like PeachyV and check out their products!
If you feel strongly about fast-fashion or the designs of small creators being stolen, we would love to see an article on these ideas! Email firstname.lastname@example.org!