Retail giant M&S have been accused of copying a pyjama design of an independent children’s clothing designer. Kate Pietrasik set up Tootsa MacGinty three years ago in an approach to change the high street’s gendered approach to children’s clothing.
Ms Pietrasik was informed about the copy cat design by several shoppers who recognised the bright red top with a wide eyed bear muzzle opening up to show teeth. It was seen in M&S stores in Newcastle and Brighton and came as a shock to independent British designer Tootsa MacGinty.
Kate Pietrasik described the product as a ‘blatant copy’ and told IoS “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, if only they’d approached me to do a collection for them.”
M&S currently controls 6.4% of the UK’s estimated £1.5bn childrenswear market and has been struggling with 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 also added that the design was only a limited run in a handful of stores, and not online.
M&S were involved in a similar controversy once before, when they had to remove a handbag from shelves after the designer Jimmy Choo noticed an evident similarity. Single mother Mr Pietrasik’s same design was also used before by another retailer in Australia. A lawyer had to intervene and the department store group Myer had agreed to stop using the line.
She intends to once again use a lawyer, who will analyse the different tops and whether or not Ms Pietrasik has a valid claim. He will also discuss how and why large retailers regularly seem to get themselves into trouble by ‘copying’ small designers’ intellectual property.
Social media use on Twitter helped to alert the designer about the infringement, one user tweeted “I know high street copy the catwalk but didn’t think @marksandspencer would do it to indy designers @TootsaMacGinty”.