Woolworths has once again been called out for copying a small South African business’s original design.
Owner of Sexy Socks, South African entrepreneur Dave Hutchison, took to social media to call out the retail giant for plagiarising one of the company’s early sock designs. His post has already garnered over 900 shares.
Sexy Socks is a socially- and eco-conscious brand. The socks are made from bamboo, a sustainable crop, and for every pair of socks sold, Sexy Socks donates a pair to school children in need. The company explains that its social mission is “committed to the idea of ‘a sock-for-a-sock'”.
In a statement on Facebook, Hutchison said, “For the last five years, I have poured my heart and soul into building Sexy Socks. I have tried to prove to the world that there is another way to do business. A more human way. A more sustainable way. In a way that proves that it is possible to chase profits while simultaneously uplifting society.”
He continued, “Today I walked into Woolworths and saw my socks. Only, they weren’t my socks. It was just my design, altered ever so slightly, with a minor colour change.
“It was one of our original, iconic, designs from the really early days, and one that was a top-seller for years. These were even made from bamboo. And it was on sale for a price well below what I can afford to offer. That’s what you can offer when you manufacture in China.
“I looked at the stand of socks, and it wasn’t just Sexy Socks that they have knocked off. They have taken the top designs from every small sock brand in South Africa.”
Hutchison concluded his statement with, “I hope you know for every sale you steal away from Sexy Socks, you take away from our team of eight. You take away from our social mission. You take away and say small business is NOT the way forward. NOT something that can move and transform South Africa. For every pair we sell we donate a pair of school socks to a child in need. Maybe you’ll ignore this. Maybe this will even guilt you into donating some socks. But what you SHOULD do is STOP stealing from small businesses.”
A Woolworths Spokesperson said, “we take allegations of IP infringement very seriously. We are investigating this issue and will [provide] feedback as soon as possible.”
In January this year, Woolworths was also under fire for copying Ubuntu Baba’s baby carrier design. When the Ubuntu Baba owner Shannon McLaughlin called the company out for this, Woolworths apologised and pulled the Ubuntu-Baba-lookalike baby carriers from its stores.