Online retailer Wiggle has promised to hold a full investigation after it was accused of plagiarism by Anna Glowinski, founder of the women’s cycle clothing brand, Ana Nichoola, an accusation that prompted strong criticism of the business on social media.
In a post to Facebook on Friday evening, Glowinski spoke of being “angry” and “heartbroken” after seeing a product for sale on Wiggle that she believes is a copy of one of her designs that she had previously shown the retailer.
The product for sale on Wiggle has been produced by the retailer’s in-house clothing brand dhb’s Blok range. There's a picture of it above. The men's ersion is currently one of the best-selling men's dhb items on Wiggle.
Glowinski has regularly used stars as a motif in her designs for Ana Nicoola. Here’s one, which we reviewed on road.cc in May 2012.
In her Facebook post, Glowinski, who also tweeted a link to it, said: “18months ago @wiggle bike shop came to my design studio/office and we spent a couple of hours looking at my designs with a view to buy. A year later we talked about a collaboration. The talks went quiet and they brought out their own version. Angry? Yes! Heartbroken? More than I knew was possible! Powerful? Nope.”
The post was widely shared and retweeted, with dozens of comments made in support of Glowinski, some calling for a boycott of Wiggle.
Some pointed out that the star motif itself perhaps owes something to the US national champion's jersey. While those tend to be uniform in size whereas the Ana Nichoola ones vary, some may recall this jersey worn by the United States team at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, sported here by Alexi Lalas.
The online retailer responded with a statement which it tweeted at 6.35pm on Sunday evening, saying:
Anna Glowinski made us aware by email at 23:12 on Friday that she believes Wiggle has plagiarised a design from her range of women’s cycling clothing she showed us in 2013.
The Wiggle colleague Anna e-mailed was on annual leave, though we did pick it up and respond to her at 17:32 on Saturday.
We confirmed that we are taking her claim very seriously and will be investigating fully on Monday. In the meantime Anna had shared her claim and frustration on Social media. We at Wiggle would like to make it clear that we work to the highest ethical standards. If a designer has indeed used Anna’s designs and passed them off as their own then we will be taking full disciplinary action and ensuring that Anna benefits from the design royalties. We too would be upset, if this is indeed what has happened. We will provide an update at 17:00 on Monday. The Wiggle Team.
In a follow-up on Saturday morning to her initial post, Glowinski said: “Wow! It's been really heartening to wake up to such support! Thanks so much! Not sure what I am going to do yet as can't afford a lawyer etc etc blah blah. I'm reading all your comments and hopefully I will hear from wiggle this weekend?! Please keep sharing. Thank you thank you!”
Later the same day, she wrote: “I literally cannot believe the support from the cycling community! I know I am not the first person to ever put stars on something, but to come into my office and then bring out a replica is not design overlap or inspiration. In my opinion it is copying. I don't have copyright on this and not really sure my next move. I guess I will wait until Monday when everyone is back in work and go from there. Will report back. I really appreciate the support and feeling from the people in our community! Thank you!”
Facebook user Alsion Critchley wrote of the Wiggle garment: “I saw this jersey yesterday and instantly thought 'Anna won't be happy about that.' Stars print is definitely associated with her.”
Last year, the government’s Intellectual Property Office said that it planned to make the deliberate copying of a design a criminal offence.
According to a May 2013 article in Design Week, the proposed legislation is aimed at protecting small businesses and independent designers.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.