Anthropologie announced Thursday that it was pulling products from stores and severing ties with a gift wholesaler accused of copying the work of independent artists and craftspeople. The store's decision follows similar action by West Elm and Fab.
As The Times reported last week, Oakland artist Lisa Congdon said in an Oct. 14 tweet and Oct. 16 blog post that her illustrations had appeared without her consent on Christmas ornaments sold by gift wholesaler Cody Foster and Co.
West Elm was not carrying the designs Congdon blogged about, but on Oct. 17 the store said it had reviewed the artist's blog post and was pulling all Cody Foster products, canceling future orders and ceasing to do business with the wholesaler. Cody Foster did not respond to The Times' request for comment.
Congdon's blog post, meanwhile, went viral, generating more than 250,000 Facebook shares in one week. West Elm social media manager Aaron Able said consumer response to the store’s action was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. It also was powerful. The day after West Elm's announcement, online retailer Fab said it would no longer sell Cody Foster products.
This week, Anthropologie's Facebook page was inundated with requests from consumers demanding that the store stop selling Cody Foster products. Comments were deleted from the page, but Anthropologie did issue this statement:
Anthropologie cherishes the relationships we have fostered with independent artists and designers, which allow us to delight our customers with beautiful, distinct merchandise.
Although extremely concerned by the allegations against one of our suppliers, we believed it was our corporate responsibility to carefully investigate the claims before taking decisive action.
After a thorough investigation, Anthropologie has decided to sever its relationship with Cody Foster & Co, remove any current items from our site and stores and cancel plans to include the company’s products in our holiday assortment. Unfortunately it is too late for us to make changes to our catalog in which a few items appear. While visible in photographs, they will not be credited or offered for sale.
We would like to thank our customers and friends in the art and design community for their patience as we resolved this matter with due diligence and with time. With this closure, we look forward to embarking on the holiday season with a shared vision.
After Anthropologie released that statement Thursday, The Times again asked Cody Foster and Co. for comment but has not received a response.