Urban Outfitters Calls Knockoff Allegations ‘False’

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In a state: tru.che necklace (left) and Urban Outfitters's pendant (right)

Welcome to the fashion edition of "I'm rubber, you're glue."

After tweeting that its accessories-buying team was "looking into" allegations that it copied Etsy seller Stevie Koerner's tru.che jewelry line, Urban Outfitters has issued an official statement denying any wrongdoing—because Koerner wasn't the first to make the state-themed designs.

The retailer has been hit with shopper backlash after it was noted that Urban's I Heart Destination jewelry range (since removed from its Web site) featured the same state outlines and heart-shaped cutouts as Koerner's World/United States of Love line.

Now the company is fighting back with a post on its Urban Outfitters blog that stresses its "deep commitment to emerging talent" and history of supporting Etsy designers through wholesale purchases.

Still, that goodwill doesn't extend to crediting Koerner. In a move echoing Yves Saint Laurent's recent rebuttal of Christian Louboutin's red-sole lawsuit, Urban Outfitters maintains that state-themed jewelry isn't proprietary ... or new.

"In fact, a quick search on Etsy for ‘state necklace’ reveals several other sellers with similar products ... who offered their wares as much as a year earlier than Ms. Koerner," the company says. "We are not implying that Koerner stole her necklace idea from one of these other designers, we are simply stating the obvious—that the idea is not unique to Koerner and she can in no way claim to be its originator."

The post also cites a feature on Regretsy that found similar designs from other Etsy vendors and James Avery pre-dating Koerner's first state-pendant sale in 2009.

"Normally we would not respond publicly to Koerner’s allegations, but we believe the media response to her campaign is threatening to impact the dozens of independent designers we work with on a daily basis," Urban Outfitters adds. "For many of them, having their work sold at Urban Outfitters is a very positive turning point in their careers, and we will not allow their hard work and commitment, or ours, to be undermined by these false allegations."

Koerner, meanwhile, has taken to Tumblr to share her response to the retailer's claims.

"There is definitely a lot of gray area between copying and being inspired by something, and I understand that sometimes two people can have the same idea without knowing about the other one’s first," she writes. "I never claimed to be the first person to create a state necklace. I claimed that Urban Outfitters copied my product collection. If you look at the name, size, scale, and copy of both of our lines, it is too close for comfort. Obviously UO felt the same way, because they have since removed their line.

"For those who believe that their lines came first, or that I copied you, I would like to go on the record saying that I did not know about your product when I created mine. This is the honest truth. I do believe that we should support each other, and I would love for you to be recognized for your work, too."