Tuesday 18 December 2018
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Businessinsider - 1 month ago

A designer is accusing Madewell of using her trademark to sell wide-leg pants — but people aren t too sure

Designer Jesse Kamm says that Madewell has ripped off her brand s signature wide-leg sailor pants. Kamm claims that the brand is not only copying her trademark, but also using her name to market the pants via search engine optimization (SEO). People are not buying it. The pants likely showed up due to Google algorithms, not a use of Kamm s name as a marketing device. Kamm has since walked back her claims. Trends come and go, but in the fashion industry, drama is truly evergreen. Denim aficionados were in the thick of it earlier this week when Jesse Kamm, a Los Angeles-based designer, accused Madewell of ripping off her namesake brand s signature wide-leg pants. Although wide-leg sailor pants have been around for some time, Kamm has been known for her take on the look since 2005. In an open-ended Instagram post addressed to Madewell, Kamm accused the brand of ripping her off — and using her name to leverage sales. I am not sure why else you would need to use my name and my trademark. It feels very inauthentic. Please take my name out of your ads. I would appreciate it so very much, Kamm wrote alongside a screenshot of a Google search for JESSE KAMM PANTS. Dear Madewell, Hi! Jesse Kamm here. A few years ago when your team asked for a meeting with me to discuss a collaboration, I politely declined because I did not think this was a good fit for my brand. Here we are in 2018, and I see that you are using my name in your advertising. Not only is this weird, but I feel it is very confusing to the customer. (Friends: I have never contributed to, nor collaborated on any design with Madewell.) I am not sure why else you would need to use my name and my trademark. It feels very inauthentic. Please take my name out of your ads. I would appreciate it so very much. Thank You! xo JK @madewell #dearmadewell #pleasetakeitdown A post shared by Jesse Kamm (@jessekamm) on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:08am PST on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:08am PST The search results showed items at Madewell and her own pants. Based on this, Kamm claimed that the brand was using her name to market the pants via advertising. I see that you are using my name in your advertising. Not only is this weird, but I feel it is very confusing to the customer, Kamm wrote. Friends: I have never contributed to, nor collaborated on any design with Madewell. But that s not quite the case. As many commenters pointed out, Madewell isn t using Kamm s name for advertising, marketing, SEO, or anything else. The reason similar pants showed up when Kamm, or any commenters, Googled Jesse Kamm Pants is because of Google shopping ad algorithms. The bar the Kamm had shared a screenshot of was sponsored shopping ads that retailers have paid for, as The Cut reported. What you see in that bar is based on search history, not marketing or SEO.  In the comments section, people were quick to set the record straight. Wait up. You re getting mad at Google results?! one person asked. Sweetie, they’re wide-leg, high-rise pants and the Google results are based on an algorithm. It’s time to grow up and get a publicist and a PR team OK, someone else said. Just Googled those same search words and Anthro’s wide-leg pants popped up along with reformation. It seems like everyone is getting different search results…. I think it’s most likely based on search history, *not* a SEO tactic, another person said I’m not quite understanding where Madewell is using your name... Google search is one thing — and its a wildly cryptic, massive thing. Another brand falsely advertising or leaching your product is entirely different, someone else wrote. Others wanted to talk about Kamm s limited size range and high price point. For reference, Kamm s pants retail for $395 and comparable styles at Madewell go for $88 and $60 at American Eagle. Kamm s pants also come in a limited size range: 0-12, and tend to run small. Madewell, on the other hand, ranges in sizes from 23-37 with petite, regular, and tall inseams. What in the mayonnaise is going on here? Everyone and their mother is making this. The only difference? Your exclusive sizing and astronomical pricing, one commenter remarked. Out here selling $400 pants made famous by Popeye that only fit an Olive Oil a-- okay, someone else said. Your pants are too tiny and expensive for most people, one person succinctly summed it up. Kamm has since walked back her comments.  Later on Wednesday, Kamm walked back her initial claims in a second Instagram post. Along with a picture of a sunset, Kamm addressed eight points. In her post, Kamm said she never claimed Madewell was unjustly using her designs, just her trademark, which is her name. I do understand that Google allows keywords of any sort, and I still say boo when it is an individual’s name being used without express permission, even when it s behind the scenes in their marketing strategy, she wrote. Holy moly ladies!!! I don’t know about you, but after yesterday, I needed a long walk, some deep breathing, and small glass of vodka! Wow. That was really something. I came for coffee, and you guys stayed for a ten course meal. Incredible. Here is what I came away with. 1. Madewell appears to have changed their ad words campaign, so if you did @madewell, thank you for understanding where I was coming from. 2. I do understand that Google allows keywords of any sort, and I still say boo when it is an individual’s name being used without express permission, even when it s behind the scenes in their marketing strategy. (This was yesterday s trademark reference…my name, not the pants) 3. I did not invent the sailor pant, and have never claimed to have done so. 4. Five years ago I did make a pair of sailor pants with a super tailored waist in an amazing fabric which has become a favorite among many women. 5. This accidental miracle was never intended to hurt or exclude anyone. The shape does have a tiny waist, which turns out to be the glory for some (and the great downfall of this style for others… and for this I am sorry). 6. Ladies, I have never suggested that you should not wear a high-waisted, wide-legged trouser from any other brand. You should shop wherever you feel so inclined. My only issue is with corporations using my name to increase their own profits. 7. We are a tiny company, perhaps to your surprise. Our team consists of one husband, one wife (me), and two part-time employees. I have posted an explanation of the limitations of our sizing on my Journal at WWW.JESSEKAMM.WORLD. Sizing has been an ongoing conversation at the studio, and in the last few months we have graded up to a size 14, and will be delivering this size in a few colors in the spring. (This happened before our exciting debate yesterday). 8. Even with that addition to our size run, we will still never be able to meet everyone’s needs in terms of sizing. I will never be able to make everyone happy, but I certainly do not aim to make anyone feel hurt. Sending love. With Sincerity, JK A post shared by Jesse Kamm (@jessekamm) on Nov 14, 2018 at 10:52am PST on Nov 14, 2018 at 10:52am PST In her post, she also said that soon the sailor pants will be available in size 14, a plan that had been in motion for some time. Although she acknowledged the addition is not a cure-all. Even with that addition to our size run, we will still never be able to meet everyone’s needs in terms of sizing, she said. I will never be able to make everyone happy, but I certainly do not aim to make anyone feel hurt. In a statement to INSIDER, a representative for the brand said that JESSE KAMM is not an expert in SEO issues, nor in the inner workings of Google’s search algorithms. Also in the statement, the brand apologized to Madewell. The intention of Jesse’s comment to Please take my name out of your ads, was for Madewell to stop using the words, JESSE KAMM (our legal trademark), as a keyword in their online marketing strategy, the statement said. This could have initially been stated more clearly, and for that, we issue an apology. Although it wasn t Kamm s intent to police the entire internet, she felt compelled to speak out because she felt the trend fit into a larger pattern within the fashion industry, per the statement. The habit in fast fashion is for these large companies to watch what is working well for the independent designers, and then to make a version of that style for their own collection, she said. There is no law against this.   As Kamm noted, fast fashion retailers are notorious for being accused of copying little-known designers. In the summer of 2017, indie designer Hanifa accused ASOS of copying the design of one of its dresses. Forever 21 was also accused of ripping off one of Wild Fang s T-shirt designs.   Kamm said she and other indie designers are fed up with the practice. The problem we, as independent designers, have is when the large company uses the independent designers’ name as a keyword to drive customers to view their similar product.  To us, this feels unethical. Visit INSIDER s homepage for more.Join the conversation about this story NOW WATCH: Here s why these pillows of bread are a New Mexican staple

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