Black-owned lingerie brand claims Victoria’s Secret copied its designs: ‘They have acted so unethically and immorally’

·5 min read
Black-owned lingerie brand Edge o' Beyond, left, claims that Victoria's Secret, right, copied its underwear design. (Photos: Edge o' Beyond/Instagram)
Black-owned lingerie brand Edge o' Beyond, left, claims that Victoria's Secret, right, copied its underwear design. (Photos: Edge o' Beyond/Instagram)

A small UK-based, Black-owned lingerie company is accusing Victoria’s Secret of stealing its designs after spotting similar items on the household brand’s website. The company, Edge o’Beyond, claims that a Victoria’s Secret employee purchased inventory as a way to likely inform the design process of the pieces in question.

Edge o’ Beyond founder, director and designer Naomi De Haan tells Yahoo Life that she received direct messages from a number of customers, who shared links to Victoria’s Secret items that looked almost identical to those created for her own brand. After then comparing the designs herself, she wrote a post on the brand’s Instagram page.

In an email to Yahoo Life, De Haan shared links and detailed comparisons of all the items, noting that the Victoria’s Secret Multi-Embroidery Thong Panty from the Dream Angels collection appeared to her to be a combined copy of three different Edge o’ Beyond styles. The Victoria’s Secret Multi-embroidery High-Rise Thong Panty, De Haan says, appears highly influenced by two of her pieces as well.

“As you can see, the pieces are so similar, so I'm certain they have our pieces, as I don't think they could've made something so similar without physically having our products,” she writes. “We had stockists holding these ranges, so someone from VS could have bought from one of our stockists too, but two orders direct from our website stood out to us as very suspicious. One order from the US was from someone who has the same name as someone working in the creative team at Victoria’s Secret in the US, so we believe this may be have been VS purchasing the range in question.”

An Instagram post by Diet Prada — an account known for calling out similar instances of alleged rip-offs in the fashion industry — explains that the particular order was around $1,500 worth of merchandise from Edge o’ Beyond’s Daisy range. The receipt, dated back to March 2019, reveals a full name that the Creative Operations Coordinator happens to share.

“I think it is terrible that huge corporations like VS are stealing from small independent businesses like mine, especially during the era of [Black Lives Matter], preying on an independent black business when they have a huge team of designers to hand,” De Haan writes. “They have acted so unethically and immorally.”

Victoria’s Secret did not respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment on the matter.

However, another Black-owned lingerie business, run by Destiney Bleu, who designed a piece for Beyoncé, has recently made similar claims against the corporation, after coming across a suspicious order.

“The lace lingerie set purchased had two different crystal colors chosen, so it wouldn’t match if worn together. There was also another one of our signature bra styles purchased and it was a size XL, as that’s all that available on the website. So that tells me it potentially wasn’t being purchased to be worn, but to be used as research and development as the sizing isn’t consistent,” Bleu, the founder and designer of Los Angeles-based d.bleu.dazzled, tells Yahoo Life. “Normally it’s standard practice for larger orders to Google the name on it. This is for protection from fraud, but also in case it is an order from a stylist or celebrity and we’re wanting to include a skin tone swatch kit, samples a note.”

Bleu explains that customer service typically handles searching the names attached to these types of orders. However, she felt compelled to give it a look on her phone as soon as she received the order notification. The search led to a LinkedIn profile matching with Victoria’s Secret’s VP of design, Bleu says, while the billing address was actually Victoria’s Secret headquarters in New York City. In this particular case, Bleu cancelled the order to avoid any instances of stolen designs by Victoria’s Secret, especially since the brand has been accused of copying designs from another brand via the same route in the past.

De Haan explains that she’s most upset about a brand that’s claimed to be about women’s empowerment stealing from her small Edge o’Beyond, a business built by women.

“[VS] can afford to put on glitzy high budget fashion shows and hire top models to feature in their campaigns, but instead, actively chose to alienate women,” through reportedly being “transphobic,” “anti plus-sized models” and using “unethical” manufacturing practices. “None of that is ‘empowering,’” she writes in an email to Yahoo Life. “We are turning five years old this year, and I have put so much hard work into our garments. I love to design and I always want to create something unique, empowering, inclusive and ethical… Not only do I care about our designs, but I care about the women who produce our pieces.”

Now, the business owner hopes that consumers are paying more attention to the ethics at the foundation of the brands that they’re buying from, and says she’s happy to have seen, firsthand, how much support she’s gotten following this incident.

“This unfortunate situation has showed us just how beautifully supportive people can be of us, and has introduced new people to Edge o’ Beyond, which is so lovely,” she says. “I don’t think these big corporations will quietly get away with these things anymore.”

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