Bec and Bridge and The Iconic in copycat design feud

Despite recent changes to the Designs Act that allow a design to be registered with IP Australia up to a year after its release, Crooks said, “Fashion is a particularly challenging industry in which to address copying because it is subject to many possible types of IP protection” surrounding each design.

The Iconic’s buying team first saw the Bec & Bridge styles in February 2021, but a change to delivery schedules due to last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns meant the Lover stock ended up launching on The Iconic before Bec & Bridge delivered theirs. The alleged duplication was revealed when The Iconic emailed its customer base advertising the new Lover styles.


A fashion industry source, who asked not to be named so they could speak freely about the allegations, said Bec & Bridge’s main concern arising from the alleged copying was that The Iconic was trying to make Lover, which rose to fame for its lacy, boho-chic designs, into another version of Bec & Bridge, whose aesthetic is more pared back. At the height of their relationship, Bec & Bridge was worth millions in revenue annually to The Iconic.

When contacted last week for comment, Cooper and Yorston said they decided to “exit quietly” from The Iconic following the incident, rather than pursue further legal action.

“The Iconic breached our trust and damaged the professional integrity of our relationship. Due to this, we had no choice but to discontinue working with them,” they said.

A second brand, which is still supplying The Iconic, was also named in internal documents as having complained that one of its dresses was similar to a Lover style. The designer declined to comment when contacted for this story.

A spokesperson for The Iconic defended the company’s design process and wholesale buying structure: “As with all fashion labels, The Iconic Own Brand team sources inspiration from a variety of fashion, runway and global market insights, including looking to those trends in the northern hemisphere’s seasonal collections. Our Own Brand team operates entirely independently from our wholesale buying team with no cross-over between the brands, including Bec & Bridge.”

The Iconic breached our trust and damaged the professional integrity of our relationship.

Bec Cooper and Bridget Yorston, Bec & Bridge

On Tuesday, this masthead revealed the underpayments, most of which were repaid by April this year, in a series of allegations against the company made by current and former employees. They also allege they were made to work in a warehouse in inner-Sydney that was so cold, models whose images were taken for the website needed their skin retouching as their hands appeared “blue” in photos.

The Iconic defended its conduct in the underpayment issue, saying it had “proactively” reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and continues to fulfil its obligations to return the unpaid wages. A spokeswoman also said the company had met all Safe Work NSW benchmarks at the Alexandria warehouse, and would be installing infrared heating after staff feedback.

Among the employees’ complaints were concerns that The Iconic had engaged in “greenwashing” by changing some of its sustainable fashion criteria to enable more products to meet the benchmark.

In 2019, The Iconic launched its “Considered” edit, to help its customers find more sustainable options, based on criteria around sustainable materials, animal welfare, ethical production, and community engagement.

But this masthead has learnt that the threshold for the percentage of sustainably sourced materials was lowered, from 75 per cent to 50 per cent, making it much easier for products to qualify. Other changes that made it easier for products to qualify included the inclusion of goods containing solvent-free polyurethane and kangaroo leather.

A spokeswoman for The Iconic said the criteria for Considered are reviewed regularly. “In August 2021, [we] conducted a thorough analysis of industry benchmarks and similar sustainability frameworks across our industry. As a result, to improve consistency for our customers we decided to align the ‘sustainable materials’ considered category with our international peers.”

A source with intimate knowledge of the Considered program, who spoke on condition their name was not used, says another major problem with the initiative is a lack of oversight over the brands’ sustainable and ethical claims regarding their products, which even extends to suppliers of The Iconic’s own brands.


Considered products are increasingly favoured by consumers, especially The Iconic’s core target market of Gen-Z. However, “greenwashing” – the inflation or invention of so-called ‘green’ attributes to make a product more attractive to environmentally-conscious consumers – is a massive issue, so much the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an investigation into the practice.

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