What Happened: Peacebird is trending on Weibo’s “hot search” category thanks to a post from independent designer brand SOS-SEAMSTRESS. Titled Peacebird or Xuerenji (“copy chicken” in Mandarin), the article accuses the company of stealing intellectual copyright and making exact replicas of designs selling on Taobao. It also highlights the stark price difference, noting that these copies retail at seven times the price of the originals. Fashion blogger @贾越Jeremy has called out the local apparel giant for counterfeiting to his 643,000 followers. Meanwhile, earlier this month, #peacebirdhasbeenaccusedmultipltimesofplagiarism ignited debate with over 240 million views.
The Jing Take: Countless businesses worldwide (including luxury ones) shamelessly plunder smaller designers for profit, stealing inspiration from online image platforms. Peacebird is not alone is doing this. It is notable that, now, content producers are trying to hold these companies accountable. This instance is a classic case of David versus Goliath (SOS-SEAMSTRESS has a modest following of 15,200 fans.) Thanks to the power of social media, it has placed Peacebird’s integrity firmly back under the microscope — for all to see.
In 2021 alone, Peacebird is accused of copying hordes of designs, from tiny independent sellers like SOS-SEAMSTRESS to international luxury houses such as Valentino and Balenciaga, not to mention visual artists like Joshua Vides (who also added his voice to the dispute back in July).
The fact that Peacebird actively advises disgruntled victims to take legal action is not sitting well with China’s internet users either — and rightly so, given the probative legal costs and difficulty of establishing design IP. In fact, many netizens are now calling for ambassadors to cease their collaborations with the company. Perhaps food for thought for brand’s ambassador Wang Yibo perhaps and his 39.1 million fans?
Another challenge here is the pace of production. Given Peacebird’s ferocious output, it’s hardly surprising there is a scramble for ideas. From June to August 2020, their Women’s Tmall flagship store displayed an average of 1,740 new models every month, with more than 6,000 SKUs on sale. SKU production outputs vary hugely depending on price point, product type, access to finance, and so on, but this is well above the average.
This latest attempt to take down one of fashion’s big players represents a welcome step forward. But in all honestly, it is unlikely the tide will turn against China’s culturally opaque practice of counterfeiting (China’s fast-fashion titan Shein is frequently in the spotlight for knocking-off designs). The solution to this issue is clear, if challenging: credit creatives and slow down fashion production. Until then, the practice will, invariably, repeat ad infinitum.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.