New Twist on an Old Print

If you’ve been a Vintage Traveler reader for a while, you will recognize the little photo album above.  It’s from the 1960s, made by a German company called KEK.  The last time I looked, they were still in business, making a variety of things.

I also have that print in a larger album in a different colorway.  Europe was just so cool in the early to mid Sixties!


I was doing my morning scroll through Instagram and came upon this photo.  As you can see, it is pretty much the same print, but with less detail.  As it turns out this print is on a dress that was sold by a UK clothing company called Joules.  Since that company is only twenty-five years old, we know that the fabric is a reproduction of the original KEK print.

The dress is adorable, and is for sale on the Instagram account, @trexesandtiaras, which gave me permission to use the photos.  If I were 20 and in the UK, I’d buy it.

It does bring up the question, yet again, of vintage prints being reproduced.  As I’ve said before, I’m making no judgment on how this fabric got reproduced.  As far as I know, the maker could have had KEK’s permission.  Or it is equally possible that some fabric “designer” found one of the 1960’s albums, or worse yet, photos online, and merely copied the print.  Well, it’s not an exact copy.  Note that on the license plate a 7 was changed to 3.

Joules clothing was tagged in our discussion, so maybe they will shed some light on this fabric.

There have been many times when I’ve been confused over a fabric, not being able to decide if it is vintage or just a new product made to look vintage.  The more I look at modern fabrics, the more I can see the difference.  The modern reproduction is cute, but put side by side there is a great difference in the detailing.  Still, I’d sure love to have a skirt of that fabric.


Filed under Novelty Prints, Viewpoint

13 responses to “New Twist on an Old Print

  1. Last time I shopped at Mary Jo’s fabric shop in Gastonia…she had a section of reproduction prints. Did not notice any like you have featured…it is really a fun print. Next time I go there, I will check again. I think you have to do at least three changes to reproduce something legally. Not sure.


  2. What an eye you have, Lizzie!


  3. You can spot ’em, Lizzy! Being married to a lawyer who deals with copyright (mostly in the film and recording industry) I’ve seen that it’s a very tricky thing to “clear” the rights to vintage works. One would hope that people making the reissues are doing due diligence and contacting the original company. Even then, odds are probably low that any money would get to the original designer or their heirs, unless it’s someone recognizable like “Vera.” (I’m not a lawyer, but I play on my blog lol!)


    • Using Vera as an example is interesting, because she was very careful to make sure every single one of her designs were copy righted (must have cost a small fortune!). Even today her work is protected, and the owners of her designs get paid by the companies that use them. I’ve actually got a post on this coming up next week.


  4. Christina

    Years ago I used to be a textiles print designer in the UK. Then it was extremely difficult and costly to challenge copyright infringement. This particular design may have been bought from KEK or the period for the registered design had expired. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has information which might help to put this issue in context.


    • That’s an interesting link. The rules are so different in the UK than in the US. I’m always open to the possibility that the reproductions have been made legally. The only one I know of where the owner of a design had no idea that their work had been copied was the case of Vested Gentress. When I asked them about the reproductions, they had no idea the work had been copied.


  5. On the ‘who owns this print?’ topic, there is an interesting article on textile print copyright at the California Fashion Assn. website that has a great list to guide anyone who wants to use a textile pattern in a product.

    Only 10 years ago, the seasonal textile shows at the Calif. LA Mart had vendors selling vintage fabric and apparel for their prints. I have sold vintage dresses with prints to known textile companies as well. This field has changed so much recently, which may take into account that the dress print you show here was probably copied back when no one cared!


  6. Pingback: We Love Vera (Neumann) | The Vintage Traveler

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