This is how - and why - Target imitates popular clothing collections originally created by other companies

This is how - and why - Target imitates popular clothing collections originally created by other companies
Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress via Getty Images

    To build up its squadron of moneymaking private-label products, Target is engaging in an age-old practice - copying.

    Many of the store's brands, from its activewear collection All in Motion to its home and decor brand Opalhouse, seem to imitate popular products originally designed by other companies, according to Fast Company.

    Champion's C9 line, an affordable athletic wear collection that was exclusively sold at Target, was removed from store shelves in 2019, after which Target created its own activewear brand that featured similar designs, including color blocking and graphic patterns, and similar prices as Champion.

    "If Target wants to raise awareness about its prowess in a new category, partnering with an established brand like Champion, with a built-in audience, is a good way to do it," says Lauren Bitar, head of insights at analytics firm RetailNext, told Fast Company. "Once they train consumers to see Target as a resource for activewear, they can suddenly start selling their own products that look very similar."

    One blog pointed out that items on the Opalhouse line looked like dupes of products sold at Anthropologie and that Target's luggage brand, Open Story, looked similar to products sold by the luggage and travel retailer, Away.


    Target has excelled at creating sometimes-unoriginal private-label brands that have helped the company drive sales. Having stylish items unique to Target that will lure customers back to the store again and again can also increase the likelihood that they'll load up their cart with items they didn't originally plan on buying.

    A Target spokesperson told Fast Company that the retailer is "committed to respecting the intellectual property rights of others and has the same expectations for our vendor partners." But the line between drawing inspiration from design trends and outright plagiarism can be fine, and it's legal to copy designs as long as the company's doesn't copy intellectual property.

    Target did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

    The industry standard of copying, or taking inspiration, from others designs can hurt small companies, which invest in developing new products only to have their designs and market share stolen by large retailers, the most.

    Other companies like Amazon have also gotten into hot water for reproducing similar versions of already-popular products. In 2020, an antitrust report accused Amazon of using data to create duplicates of well-liked products that were sold on the site, a practice that small businesses said ate into their sales and forced some to shut down.


    "It's very significant for us," Joey Zwillinger, co-CEO of Allbirds, a company that sells wool shoes that were copied by Amazon, said. "There's real damage when big retailers steal intellectual property from little brands, treating us like their R&D department."

    Read the whole story about Target's duplicates in Fast Company.