58 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2018 “There’s something going on right now,” Brennan says. “There’s a piv- otal touchstone and Diet Prada has brought it to the forefront, which is: Do you want to litigate it in court or do you want to litigate it in the court of public opinion? Public shaming of knockoffs and copycats is not new, but Instagram and Diet Prada have brought it to a head.” While the public opinion case of Nordstrom v. Independent Fine Jewelry Designers might have resulted in a happy ending, Yood warns that that’s not always the way it goes. “Opening yourself up to the court of public opinion is a choice, but it may not be your best one. It is an option for people if you feel you’re not being heard. But it’s something that has to be chosen very carefully because there are a lot of negative consequences if it doesn’t go well.” Yood says that social media shaming can open brands up to attacks from fans of the party accused of copying, or criticism that many designs are universal and copying hasn’t really taken place. Many designers, included the ones interviewed for this story, feel averse to propagating that kind of online negativity. Even with her difficulties obtaining registered copyrights, Wwake’s Yau prefers to address copiers directly and privately. “I think it can be done in a way that isn’t just shaming another brand,” Y au says. “I really don’t want to create a space on any of our platforms for negative discussions or encourage bullying online. It’s much more about us and what we’re doing and supporting us, rather than taking someone down. I think understanding what the end goal is rather than just venting on social media is important in terms of your own brand preservation.” Yau instead sends warnings to infringers, “just to let them know we’re aware of what’s being put out on the market and we care to pro- tect ourselves. That’s a more formal way of saying, ‘we’re watching.’” Specifically, her strategy is to send time-stamped images of her original pieces (proving when they were first released) alongside the copies in question. And with other small, independent brands in particular, even the ones who license copies of her work to large retailers that sell the pieces nationwide,Y au attempts to appeal to their humanity, reminding them that, no matter how much recognitionWwake receives, she’s an independent business owner who started her venture with her babysitting money. Shetypicallycontactsthesebrandsthrougha directmessageonInstagram,wherethey’repost- ingtheoffendingcontentandwheresheknows they’llseewhatshehastosay. Beyond reactive measures, dealing with copies has strengthened Yau’s resolve to communicate her brand message. Over the last couple of years she’s taken to writing more lengthy descriptions along- side the images she shares on Instagram, explaining her emphasis on sustainability and ethical sourcing, so customers understand the impact of buying one of her pieces. She explains: “It’s important I stand my ground on our brand integrity because our pieces are sustainably made and they come with that on-trend design, but they’re supposed to be pieces that last forever. We’re trying very hard to be part of this wave of new heirlooms that speaks to the generation who wants to be investing in their wardrobe, putting their dollars where their politics are. “It’s interesting to see the choice be laid out for consumers in such an obvious way. If you’re part of the Wwake sphere you have the op- tion of buying this design at a huge retailer for $13 or $8, maybe less? Or you have the choice of purchasing it from our sustainably grown model and supporting our entire supply chain that we’ve worked so hard to provide stability for.” Yau,Azlee’s Zwart and Kalan all note that they try to look at the positive side, taking refuge in the knowledge that if they’re being copied, at least that indicates their designs are resonating in the market. “It’s a sign we’re doing a good thing that peo- ple aspire to integrate (our designs) into their own businesses,” saysY au. “There’s almost a stronger brand identity that we get to carve out with the copies existing in the first place. Our customers are more driven to support us and our brand in a vocal way.” Kalan, who speaks candidly about the difficulties of being copied and acknowl- edges that it affects her bottom line, ultimately adopts a positive attitude on the subject, born partly out of the futility of stopping the business of copying altogether. “I want to say that copying has grown my business,” she says. “The people who want the real thing are going to come to us. They know the difference between buying the original and the copy. It has brought a lot of attention to our brand. I guess it’s helped us get branded. We’ve lost some business but I think we’ve gained more attention.” THE STATE OF THE MAJORS THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY JEWELRY DESIGN THE COLORED STONE MARKET Have you heard of the right to publicity? Judging by the looks of social media today, probably not. While designers’ practice of posting images to social media platforms of celebrities wearing their jewels is commonplace, it’s actually not legal. “If somebody is wearing your design and you don’t have an agreement with them that you can repost it, you should not, because it’s considered adver- tising,” says intellectual property attorney Mary Kate Brennan. The right of publicity is an individual’s rights to her or his name, image and likeness. Le- gally, an individual is entitled to receive compensation if she or he is featured on a designer’s page. Celebrities have litigated over this issue before. Katherine Heigl once sued drugstore chain Duane Reade for $6 million after they tweeted a picture of the actress carrying its shopping bags. Heigl eventually dropped the suit, but only after the chain made a donation to charity. THE SOCIAL MEDIA BLUNDER Everyone Is Making “There’s a positive and negative with social media. Our brand got bigger and stronger and better and recognized all over the world. At the same time, people who are going to copy are having an easier time.” —Suzanne Kalan