An Example of How Big Box Companies Steal Creativity

This from a Trans World Surf article about how some big box retailers marketing themselves as “authentic” are nothing of the sort. I know other independent designers whose designs have been copied by many so-called authentic brands. The sad thing is, people don’t even realize that these brands don’t truly have their own identity, but steal ideas from other creative people. Why on earth couldn’t Hollister just make their own Surfboard? Hollister is NOT a real surf brand, it’s a fake one! (sigh)
Be authentic, buy authentic!

“It’s no secret that over the course of the past few years Hollister Co., the mall-based store owned by Abercrombie and Fitch Co. has been marketing its apparel as a surf brand. While several endemic companies have argued that Hollister has borrowed designs and concepts from their lines, no one in the surf market has tried to substantiate the claims, until now.
On March 6, 36-year-old artist Robb Havassy, whose art has been licensed out to brands such as Reef, Op, and Robert August in the past, filed a lawsuit against Hollister Co. It alleges that the brand created more than 300 exact replicas of a surfboard that he custom-painted and displayed the reproductions in the front windows of its stores nationwide without his knowledge or approval. The suit claims Hollister is liable for the unauthorized use of his artwork and personal identity in its national in-store marketing and branding campaign. Havassy is seeking remuneration for the use of his artwork and name by Hollister over the past several years and for any future use, as well as public acknowledgment that they used his graphic designs without his knowledge and permission.

“I’m not exactly sure where they got it, but somebody got a hold of it and they dug it and thought that it should be at the front of the store and be a part of their whole look”, says Havassy, who admits to being impressed with how precisely the brand managed to duplicate his work. “They’re identical. Exactly. Down to my signature and my date on the signature. They replicated it identically, to the duct tape on the nose and little repair marks on the deck. People say I should be pissed, but… ”

– Excerpt from a Transworld Business Article that was published in 2007, but has since  unfortunately been removed from the archives (I wish I still had the entire article for you). You can read a related, updated Transworld Business Article (from the perspective of the surf industry) here:

And I highly recommend you read Robb Havassy’s story about how he takes back surf culture for the rest of us here:

By | 2017-01-16T17:07:24+00:00 May 18th, 2007|All, conscious consumerism|4 Comments


  1. Pamela Clark June 9, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Man- that’s some cra**y stuff.

    Good story!

  2. […] the surfing lifestyle brand. People who work at Hollister as well as people who actually surf know that the brand is fake. The brand wasn’t started by surfers, it was started by marketers.  Hollister has no roots […]

  3. GarykPatton June 15, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more information on this issue.

  4. donna April 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Gary… For a long time I couldn’t find any updates on this story online and the original Transworld Surf Biz story I had linked to was removed from the archives. Today, a Google search for Havassy+Hollister brings up some coverage of the story, but The entire story is also told in his just published (very beautiful) art book “Surf Story”. Amazing book. I was blown away when I finally got to read the entire story as it happened to Robb. Find it here:

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