Less than six months after Woolworths withdrew a baby carrier model from their shelves for bearing a resemblance to an Ubuntu Baba design, they have now been accused of copying designs for socks.
Woolworths vs Sexy Socks
Dave Hutchison is the founder and owner of local sock manufacturer Sexy Socks South Africa.
He began the company five years ago with the idea that there must be a more human and sustainable way of manufacturing products. He wants to prove that it was possible to make a profit and do good for society.
By all accounts, the company has done well in establishing itself as a niche brand in the footwear market.
However, Hutchison received the shock of his life when he walked into a local Woolworths and saw, what looked to him, like a copy of one of his original sock designs.
“These were even made from bamboo. And it was on sale for a price well below what I can afford to offer. That’s what you can offer when you manufacture in China,” Hutchison wrote on Facebook.
“I looked at the stand of socks, and it wasn’t just Sexy Socks that they have knocked off. They have taken the top designs from every small sock brand in South Africa.”
“At a time when South Africa needs small business more than anything else, Woolworths repeatedly tries to crush it. Did you learn nothing from the time you copied Ubuntu Baba?”
Not the first controversy
In January 2019 Woolworths had to pull a baby carrier design from their shelves due to perceived similarities between theirs and one designed by local designer Shannon McLaughlin.
This was followed shortly afterward by a claim they had plagiarised a drink brand called SuperLatte that creates drinks containing ‘super-food’ ingredients.
And there was also a case in 2012 in which the Frankie’s Olde Soft Drink Company forced a line of drinks products at Woolworths to be removed from the shelves after they were found to be imitations.