UPDATE 5/1/2012: Topshop did the right thing and removed the copycat Punctuation rings from sale. Kudos to Wendy for handling this professionally and calmly… and kudos to everyone who rallied together to show their support for Wendy!
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Wendy Brandes Jewelry.
Wendy’s pieces always top my “most-wanted” list and for good reason. The craftsmanship and quality are—without fail—superb. It doesn’t matter if the piece costs thousands, or if it’s something from her more affordable “WendyB” line, it’s always beautifully made.
Me and my swear rings!
My first purchase from Wendy’s line was her swear ring set ($380). I purchased these lovelies back in 2010 and they are f#@!-ing amazing. Seriously. If you want to make a statement with your jewelry this is the way to go. Anyone who catches a glimpse of your fingers will stop to ask you about them. A complete stranger may even ambush you in a public restroom to get the deets on these rings (yes, it happened).
These rings are definite statement pieces… so we really shouldn’t be surprised that Topshop has come out with a disturbingly similar set of their own, right?
These rings ($28) are the latest offering from Freedom at Topshop, a line which claims to be “always one-step-ahead of the trends and updated with about 400 new pieces each month.” Clearly, they are more affordable than Wendy’s rings, but I am sure you get what you pay for in each case.
Perhaps to distance themselves from Wendy’s swear rings, Topshop calls these “punctuation rings”. According to freedictionary.com:
Punctuation: 1. (Linguistics) the use of symbols not belonging to the alphabet of a writing system to indicate aspects of the intonation and meaning not otherwise conveyed in the written language.
That means the letter “F” is not a form of punctuation! That’s OK, though… I can understand how vocabulary may not be a top priority when you are under pressure to come up with 400 new designs a month… that’s 4,800 pieces a year! Imagine how difficult it must be to come up with that many original designs.
Now, Wendy herself addressed this topic and admits that word and letter jewelry, including the 4-letter-word type, has been around for ages. Nevertheless, Wendy admits that she finds the execution of this particular idea a bit more similar to hers than she would like.
As do I.
In my opinion, there are too many similarities between the Freedom at Topshop punctuation rings and Wendy’s swear rings for this to be a coincidence. A simple google search of “buy swear rings” leads right to Wendy’s site, so anyone researching these types of rings would easily find her version, and that could very well be what happened here. It’s pretty clear that Freedom at Topshop is also heavily “inspired” by Jennifer Fisher Jewelry and Made Her Think, among others, and now they have added Wendy Brandes to the mix.
But the way I see it, these rings are a poor imitation of the real thing: Wendy’s rings.
What I don’t understand is why a company the size of Topshop doesn’t reach out to the original designers, like Wendy, and ask to collaborate with them? Wendy Brandes Jewelry is a small business which means some of her designs can be quite pricey because of the cost of materials and manuafacturing. I know Wendy would love to offer more affordable versions of her designs to the public, so why steal her design? Why not work with her instead?
I know Topshop isn’t the first fast-fashion company to lift the designs of others and mass produce them, but that doesn’t make this right.
What are your feelings on this issue?
Do you support what these companies are doing or do you stand behind the original designers?
Or is your stance somewhere in the middle?