So I got ripped off.
I mean, I’ve been ripped off before. My car was broken into one night after I responsibly knew I shouldn’t drive it home. I found it the next morning, trunk open, guts splayed out on the concrete. I had about 12 years of well-hunted vintage in that trunk, and though most of it wasn’t touched (thank god they had no desire for the cropped faux fur jacket I bought in 1994 for $3), all the gifts and gift cards from my sister in law’s bachelorette party were gone. Hundreds of dollars of mall bustiers would never live out their life in her dresser drawers because of my negligence. I’m negligent with negligees. They also took my iPod. Like the good late model iPod that looks like today’s apple tv remote. Damn it, I could stick it in my sports bra and not lose it while jogging. Damn it!
Last year my studio was broken into. The fashion forward thief knew who Armani was and snatched a blazer I needed for the red carpet the next day. Somehow found the tag AND receipt (HOW?? HAVE YOU SEEEEEEN MY STUDIO?) and returned it for $1200 cash within 30 minutes. Hard to be mad at such precision. We should all be so gifted.
I filed 2 police reports and saw a whopping $0 in damages.
But this week I was intellectually ripped off.
About 3 years ago, spurred on by a burgeoning public desire for my loosely illumianity- esque designs, I hand drew a pyramid/evil eye graphic with sharpie pen, scanned it into my computer, cleaned it up and sent it off to my screen printer. It is to date, my #1 seller. And I love it. I have literally 20 of my own t-shirt and wear them reguarly. And still squeal when I see a stranger wearing them.
4 days ago a customer DM’d me on instagram, asking about said t-shirt (which have been sold out for months, because I can’t afford the restock to be perfectly honest). She said she finally found an online site selling them (RED FLAG) but when she received it (BIGGER RED FLAG - I ain’t got no retailers but me) the quality couldn’t have been what I intended (OH SHIT).
I went to teenamycs.com and sure enough- there was my design- hastily photoshopped on a cheap shirt and being sold for an embarrassing $12.
Good thing Cara Jackson is a dear friend (seriously, all law and biz shiz talk to her) and whipped up a quick cease and desist. It was all over within a day. Just kidding, I have no idea how many days or weeks or months they'd been selling that tee. DAMN IT.
Here’s the thing. I understand the world we live in. Not only do I “get” fast fashion, I BUY IT. I don’t have a lot of money, and when I want something wacky, I go the lazy Forever 21 $23.99 route.
Am I a hypocrite?
Fashion has always been a little "fast" anyway. How many designers have we heard from lately who are choosing one of 2 routes:
1. Online and ready in mass quantity the SECOND the model hits the runway
2. Only Custom, only One of a Kind, and you'll only get it when it's Damn Good and Ready.
So what about us designers in between? I don't have the infrastructure to produce that quickly. Or the desire to labor over one dress a month?
The truth is, in my circle, especially among Project Runway designers, getting ripped off is almost like a merit badge you must earn in order to get your Eagle Scout of REAL INDEPENDENT DESIGNER. It's a right of passage. And nothing much else. Because it happened, it's over, and if my shit is good enough, it'll happen again.