Hooray! thought I. They're moving on from the offshore mass production of the inexpensive costume jewellery industry and teaming up with some talented Australian designers to create some unique, high quality product!
And then I kept reading.
The statement had been released in relation to some accusations that the company had been making cheap knock offs of a ring designed by a fledgling Australian jewellery label, My Mother Mabel. Intrigued and slightly appalled, I did a little googleing/ facebook stalking and found out that Lovisa was not only being accused of creating knock offs of small, homegrown labels, but other, more famous international designers, with the most notable one being the Art Enamel Ring by Yves Saint Laurent.
Not really my taste (or price range at $195), but apparently it's caused quite a stir.
Knock offs are not an uncommon thing; you go to places like Bali or Thailand, or even the Caribbean Gardens and Market, and you can find fake versions of big name brands that even your grandmother has probably heard of. It's illegal, yes, but no one really seems to bat an eyelid, maybe because the original product costs two months rent and they believe these companies are making enough money off the Kardashians or whoever anyway. I've never really been a fan of buying something because it has Gucci or Prada plastered all over it, so I don't quite understand the whole idea of buying something that's poorly made just because it sort of looks expensive, over buying something that's nice and well made and genuinely pretty, yet was designed by an anonymous woman who workshops in her garage and wears a lot of hemp.
The thing that really bothers me about this though is when big companies rip off the local little guy, designers who have worked so hard to create orginal ideas (which is really hard these days because it feels like everything has been done before), good quality product and to build their buisness in an already overcrowded marketplace. Lovisa mentioned in their statement on facebook that it was the fault of their "supp...lier" (bless), and that it was an innocent design cross over. This could be true about My Mother Mabel, the unknown up and comers who have not shown up on Lovisa's radar until now.
However, I find it rather difficult to believe that a company that always claimed to be at the forefront of fashion, are claiming ignorance to the fact that they've been selling knock offs of one of Yves Saint Laurent's most famous designs.
Just a little familiar? (Image from Elisha Casagrande)
I used to be a salesgirl for Lovisa, back when they first opened and I was saving furiously to go overseas. Now before you rush for your pitchforks and flaming torches, I'm not about to throw around wild accusations; this is not an expose on the seedy underbelly of the production floor, nor am I about to reveal that they fuel their smelting fires with puppies and children's stolen dreams. As far as retail goes, they treated me pretty ok; at the time, I liked a lot of their jewellery (this was before I discovered etsy), and there are a couple of pieces that I bought there that are functioning and I will still wear now. However, I was never under any illusions that they were something more than a cheap, costume jewellery distributor, unlike a few of our customers, who used to come back scandalized and demanding refunds when their $5 rings became tarnished or fell apart because they wore them while washing the dishes. It's simple; you get what you pay for. I just hope that now Lovisa will pay a little more attention to what else is out there, and what their suppliers are sending them. And that they stop selling local rip offs, intentional or no.That would be nice too.
The bottom line is, if you only have $20 dollars to spend and need something to go with a dress you bought for your cousins wedding this weekend, you will probably find what you're looking for at Lovisa. But if you are looking for something original, well made, and want to support local design over Made in China mass production, may I suggest saving your pennies and checking out labels like My Mother Mabel, A Skull of Foxes, Limedrop, or just log into etsy and have a browse! I guarantee you will find something you like, you will be helping your creative collective, and it will last you a hell of a lot longer!
Here end of the rant.