An independent shop in Glasgow has slammed copycat crooks who have stole their designs and sold them on for a fraction of the price.
Social Recluse, a small studio that creates merchandise inspired by music, fashion and football, discovered a counterfeit Instagram account had replicated their hard work.
The fake social media account was based in Malaysia and were advertising their ideas for cut prices, a trend which has surged during lockdown as crooks cash in on ideas from other businesses.
The studio now want to raise awareness of design theft by exposing the counterfeit products and the people behind them.
Robert Chambers, designer at Social Recluse said: “Whilst we are only a small studio and shop in Glasgow, we do have a good reach with what we do worldwide.
"The downside to that is that people copy our products and ideas. This happens largely in the UK and further afield, as far as Malaysia.
"We have a very loyal following on Instagram, and an online community that looks out for each other.
“I am now making sure the fake prints and the people behind them are exposed, by sharing them on our social accounts and putting them in front of our followers, to raise awareness of the problem.”
Designers and brands across the world are spotting a surge in counterfeit Instagram accounts replicating their work and products, according to Google trend search data.
It’s a huge underground community, which Instagram predicts will reach a net worth of $1.82 trillion by the end of this year.
In 2019 around 4million Instagram posts or stories relating to fashion brands were promoting counterfeit products, with as many as 95 million ‘bots’ posting as real accounts.
With most fake accounts selling counterfeit merchandise uploading posts at a high frequency every day, the damage to the creators of the legitimate products can be extremely severe.
Luke Hodson, founder of the printing company, Awesome Merchandise, commented: “Counterfeit products are nothing new, but it’s not surprising the community is growing particularly on Instagram due to the easy access of printing and free versions of design tools such as Photoshop.”
“Supporters of these counterfeit products forget that for the designers and artists behind the piece of artwork, be it in a print or on a piece of clothing or merchandise, a huge amount of time has been devoted to creating them.
"From the initial concept to developing and refining the idea, it’s a skillset that is very special and unique, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.”