We Love Vera (Neumann)

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?

22 Comments

Filed under Designers, Viewpoint

22 responses to “We Love Vera (Neumann)

  1. Yes, candy! Bridge mix!

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  2. Yep, licorice! I know, because my grandfather was very fond of those candies.

    It amazes me that you already pulled this from the bins, as it seems like just yesterday that I saw this dress in store (I rarely shop Anthro, but I like to engage in “retail research”.) Are people made of money, that they can just toss out a perfectly good dress? A very nice donation, in any case.

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  3. Pam Bonner

    I have several Vera scarves that I love. I think this design looks much like the candy I remember in a bowl at my grandma’s house in the early 60s. Thank you for your work in defending the intellectual property of designers.

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  4. They are Bassetts Liqorice Allsorts British sweets.

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  5. Ah, licorice! I as going to say some kind of cakes, but now I can picture the licorice candies that were mentioned. I love this little blouse.

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  6. Yes, I recognized the licorice right away. Fabulous print.

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  7. I was going to just say “candy” or “bon bons”–they remind me of the Brach’s mixes that used to be in the grocery store (still are, maybe?).

    That’s a cute blouse. I don’t shop Anthro or UO for the same reasons as you (plus others), but they certainly are excellent at marketing their brand. Did you think the blouse was well-made?

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    • Blouses in a similar style on the Anthropologie website are $90 – $120. That is insane, because no, the construction is average at best. The rayon fabric is okay, but a bit thin. The buttons are cheap. But the ruffle and binding are nicely done, and the drawstring construction is good.

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  8. The whole fabric design copyright thing is also really interesting to me, and it’s something that so few people really think about.

    I have never set foot in an Anthropologie, even though so many people said i would love it here. I just could never bring myself to go into a place that just seemed to be a slightly higher end Forever 21. Your comment on the fabric and construction was interesting as well!

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  9. Ann Simmons

    Some of the timeline info is incorrect. I worked at The Vera Companies, first as an intern starting in 1983 and left in in 1990 …Manhattan Industries was bought by Salant Corp (Perry Ellis International) but The Vera Companies stayed intact until after her death in 1993…it is sometime after that The Tog Shop bought the company. My name is Ann Simmons….you can find me on LinkedIn if you wish to contact me.

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