Sexy Socks owner claims Woolworths stole design - but the retailer is fighting back

Business Insider SA
  • Sexy Socks founder Dave Hutchison claims Woolworths has copied one of his socks designs. 
  • He says a pair of new Woolworths socks feature the same bicycle design, and is made from a similar material. 
  • Woolworths has denied the allegations, saying bicycles are an international design trend. 
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Sexy Socks founder Dave Hutchison claims Woolworths has stolen the design of his bamboo-made socks. 

In a Facebook post on Monday, Hutchison said Woolworths is crushing South African small businesses by copying their designs. 

“Today I walked into Woolworths and saw my socks. Only, they weren't my socks. It was just my design, altered ever so slightly, with a minor colour change,” Hutchison wrote. 

“It was one of our original, iconic, designs from the really early days, and one that was a top seller for years.” 

Attached to his post was a photo of a pair Woolworths’ socks featuring a bicycle design. The socks were made from a “bamboo blend” according to the label.

A second photo features Sexy Socks’ socks with a similar bicycle design.  All Sexy Socks are made from bamboo fibres.  

But Woolworths denied any allegation that it copied Sexy Socks’ bicycle design or the bamboo material used.

“Bicycles are an international design trend used by fashion houses, designers and retailers all over the world,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Business Insider South Africa. 

The retailer said bicycle designs were first used on boxers in 2015, and due to its success has since been used on t-shirts, socks and trunks. 

It said bamboo textiles have also been used in its towels, shirts, trousers, jackets and socks since 2005 due to its sustainability attributes. 

“We remain deeply committed to the development of small business in South Africa,” Woolworths added. 

In his Facebook post, Hutchison asked if Woolworths had learnt nothing from Ubuntu Baba carriers, which Woolworths admitted had "striking similarities" to its own baby carriers.  

Also read: Woolworths admits trouble with its baby carrier design, yanks its Ubuntu Baba lookalike from shelves

He said the Woolworths socks were also priced below his asking price, possibly because they were manufactured in China. Sexy Socks are made locally. For each pair of Sexy Socks sold a pair is donated to needy school pupils

“I hope that South Africans will put their foot down and show that we will not tolerate this,” Hutchison said. 

“I hope that they will stand up for the little guys, stand with our entrepreneurs, stand with small business and refuse to accept such poorly disguised plagiarism.” 

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