Fans of Outdoor Voices call out brands for copying its products, proving more powerful than non-existent legal protections

What happened

  • Outdoor Voices (OV) was the first brand to popularize its colorblocked leggings and tops made out of chunky stretch heather fabric. Over the past few years, other brands have taken inspiration from (or copied) the style, to varying degrees. Bandier, the multi-brand ecommerce retailer, is the latest to build off of Outdoor Voices with its new private label, We Over Me.
  • Many Outdoor Voices fans, in addition to OV CEO Tyler Haney, quickly called out Bandier for its rip-offs, which garnered OV some positive press.

Why it matters

  • Bandier is not the first brand to copy OV, but it definitely has the best-executed imitations. However, OV has no way to copyright or trademark these designs, since apparel does not have many of the same legal protections that other types of products or materials do.  
  • Instead, the brand relied on its supporters to make a scene on social media, which generated a significant amount of press. The paradox of the internet is that even though it is much easier to rip off existing work, as Bandier did, it also makes it possible for customers to shame these brands on a previously unimaginable scale. This, in turn, might be stronger (and cheaper) than any legal protections brands could dream of. In the minds of many OV customers, Bandier tainted its brand and is no longer buyable.
  • Additionally, this incident touches on many of the ideas we explored in Building Bulletproof Brands, which talks about how certain communities and networks can remain potent even when companies make knock-off products. As it happened in this case, a brand’s fans are often the best protection they have from rip-offs.