Last week I showed a newer fabric that was copied from a 1960s print that can be found on vinyl accessories from the German company, KEK. It’s hard to know if these newer fabrics are complying with the original owner’s copyright, especially since the rules vary from country to country and often involve China, in which there are rules but few seem to follow them.
While some companies have long gone out of business and their former owners have little or no idea that their designs are being recycled, excellent planning prevented this from happening at at least one American company, Vera. According to Vera’s nephew, Fred Salaff, all of Vera’s designs were registered in the Library of Congress, which made her copyright easier to defend.
Another thing that has protected Vera’s work is that someone has always clearly owned it. Vera sold her business to Manhattan Industries in 1967, but she continued to work as the designer of the scarves that carried her name. When Manhattan sold the Vera company in 1988, all her original work, samples and archives were put into storage. In 2005, the Vera name and archives were bought by Susan Seid who worked with other companies to get products with Vera designs produced.
One company was Anthropologie which sold a line called “We Love Vera” starting in 2010. I don’t shop at Anthropologie, as it is owned by the same man who owns Urban Outfitters, a company that is constantly releasing objectionable products just for the publicity, much like a three-year-old pitches a tantrum just to get mommy to notice. But I did keep up with the Vera products, mainly because I think the whole issue of print copyright is so interesting.
Susan Seid sold the copyrights and licensing agreements last year, and it does not look like Anthropologie is still selling We Love Vera. Other companies continue to produce products that feature Vera artwork, including Brighton handbags.
I was happy to pull this We Love Vera blouse from the Goodwill bins last week. It’s interesting to see how her designs have been adapted to a young, modern consumer.
I’m not exactly sure what this design portrays, but it is definitely from Vera Neumann’s hand. Any ideas on what these little designs are?