Lands’ End vs. KJP
This week, Ivy Style blogged a story about Kiel James Patrick fans being up in arms over a Lands’ End facsimile of KJP’s signature nautical belts. Upset fans of KJP included Patrick himself, who wrote to Ivy Style:
“It broke my heart to have customers, friends and family send me link after link this past week to Lands’ End’s e-commerce site. There was my creation being sold at a fraction of the cost simply by sacrificing quality, originality and integrity of local production. I couldn’t have felt more discouraged on my mission to continue designing original products and sustaining my American production. I design for myself and am not hired by corporate companies so that they may ship my ideas off to China carelessly in order to make a quick buck, all the meanwhile destroying the diminishing American spirit of industry, originality and entrepreneurship. The belt I created helps employ over 20 Americans. Lands’ End’s knock-off arrives to America in a box labeled ‘Made in China.’”
The article includes the following picture:
Christian, the blog’s curator, noted that the article drove the blog to it’s highest daily traffic ever, and buoyed KJP to his best week in sales. Among the fray of commentary below the piece, I found these remarks to be the most level-headed:
Comment by Dave — March 25, 2012 @ 5:38 pm
This is certainly chafing, but hardly new. How many top designers see their creations knocked off within days of debuting on the runway?
Further, Lacoste stayed in business after Ralph Lauren started making polo shirts, Ralph Lauren remained successful after Tommy Hilfiger entered the scene, and Brooks Brothers continues to thrive after nearly everyone now makes their own version of buttondown shirts and patchwork madras pants.
The niche market that KJP targets will almost always appreciate quality and originality over price, so the real threat to his overall business is whiningly overblown. Them’s the breaks, kid. Simply the price of being a player in that industry.
Comment by AEV — March 28, 2012 @ 12:44 pm
I think it’s admirable that KJP has started and grown his own company. But, the ignorance of the “prep” blogosphere is on full display here. While KJP’s belts may have a couple unique design aspects, braided, nautical rope belts have been being made by numerous companies for decades. Leatherman Limited (a CT based and produced company), for one, has made them at least since the 1980s when I owned one myself. With solid brass buckles, full grain leather, and braided nautical rope, they are very, very similar to Kiel’s and cost half as much. A simple Google search unearthes dozens of other companies making similarly styled belts: Orvis, Skipjack Nautical Wares (also US made), L.L. Bean, Vineyard Vines, RL, J. Crew, and numerous other small companies, many who also produce in the USA.
All of this ire from a subculture obsessed with Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines, Brooks Brothers, etc. – all of whom have built near empires stealing designs, recreating classics, and repackaging timeless items as “new” and fresh? Even Kiel knows that many of his designs, including his belts and his “new” anchor clasp bracelets, copy liberally from other firms’ designs. C’mon.
There is very little new under the sun and, in this case, KJP should be flattered that Lands’ End wants to sell belts similar to his – and, perhaps some overt competition will drive efficiencies and push the KJP brand to compete more fiercely on price, create new designs, etc.
Louboutin vs. Saint Laurent anyone?