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Knitwear is slow, the knockoffs come fast


Knitwear is slow, the knockoffs come fast

When the knitwear designer Crochet Bao posted her latest creation to Instagram last May, fans fawned over what they saw: a red and white cardigan with gingham-checked sleeves, chunky accents, and big strawberries patterned across the body. “A lot of people were DMing me and asking for a pattern, but some people were willing to pay for it as well,” Crochet Bao said.

If someone is interested in the cardigan, they can go to her Etsy store to buy crochet pattern instructions for $11 or a custom-made cardigan for $195.

Or, they can go to online clothing retailer Cider and buy a knockoff cardigan with an almost identical design for $32 — which isn’t surprising to the full-time designer, who found out about the listing after a follower messaged her.

“It seems like every day you look and then there’s a new design being taken or imitated and copied,” she said.

Fast-fashion companies like Cider and Shein are known to regularly rip off designs from small creators. Usually, there are very few consequences, because most clothing items cannot be protected under American copyright laws.

This means that when a small designer like Crochet Bao, who asked to be identified by the name of her online store, has her design imitated, the only thing she can do is post about it online and hope people see that the design is actually hers.

The problem is even more severe for knitwear designers, whose products have taken over the fashion world. Since many designers stitch their clothes by hand, prices tend to be high to reflect the quality and time of the work. It took Crochet Bao three months to make her cardigan design — she made prototypes to make sure her instructions were size-inclusive, created step-by-step videos for the pattern, and had multiple people test her design and give her feedback. Every time someone orders a cardigan, it takes her 18 hours to crochet the entire piece by hand.

“After all that work, for someone to just take it and then sell for like one-eighth of the price or even less, is just insane,” the 25-year old Etsy seller said.

Companies rarely respond to claims about copying…

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