Fake Authenticity: How Big Brands Steal Creativity

(I originally posted this in 2007, when I heard about Robb Havassy and his battle with Hollister & Co. to defend surf culture, a veritable David and Goliath story. This man is a hero for surfers everywhere.)

The quote below is from a Transworld Business article about how some big box retailers marketing themselves as “authentic” are nothing of the sort. I personally 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 who are too small to defend themselves.

So 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:

http://business.transworld.net/features/how-hollister-co-stole-surf-eight-years-after-abercrombie-fitch-invaded-the-surf-market-what-can-be-done-to-defend-against-them/

And I highly recommend you read Robb Havassy’s story about how he takes back surf culture for the rest of us here:  http://www.ocregister.com/articles/havassy-252308-surf-art.html

A copy of Robb Havassy's Surfboard in Hollister Display. They even copied his RH signature at the bottom

By | 2017-01-16T17:07:10+00:00 March 1st, 2011|All|0 Comments

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