Urban Outfitters Rips Designer’s Cupcake T-Shirt

Online vendor Johnny Cupcakes sells t-shirts and other clothing for hipsters festooned with cupcakes. (A notion we entirely support, being given to a particular love for the tiny cakes.) Apparently Urban Outfitters asked Johnny Cupcakes for a few samples of his t-shirts to be considered for placement in their stores, something that would have certainly had great financial reward for both companies. Sadly, Urban Outfitters chose not to carry Johnny Cupcake’s products—or he chose not to go with them for some reason; we’re not sure—and never returned his samples.

Now it would appear that Urban Outfitters has copped his design remaking an extremely similar t-shirt under the ‘Urban Renewal’ brand. Johnny’s original is on the left, the ripoff is on the right. Granted, the whole ‘dropping a bomb of x’ concept isn’t really new, but if Urban Outfitters solicited t-shirts from a designer, they shouldn’t be getting anywhere near the same concept if they choose not to license the artist’s work.


Edit Your Comment

  1. The Unicorn says:

    Johnny Cupcake’s design is also way cuter, which makes it an even stupider move on Urban’s part.

  2. WMeredith says:


    If you wear shorts and walk by an Urban Outfitters with the door open you can feel the suck blowing out onto your legs. This is the same Abercombie & Fitch bullshit where you can buy holy jeans so you look ‘vintage’. You can’t purchase cool, which is something the American public refuses to believe…

    That’s so weird that some big corporation ripped of an original idea, added in some crappy execution and is making a bunch of money off it. (Oh, wait. It’s not weird at all, see Pepsi; Windows) I’m going to go eat worms.

  3. airship says:

    What’ really hilarious is Johnny Cupcake’s design uses a real bomber, which can drop multiple bombs, like the design shows, while Urban Outiftter’s design uses a dive bomber, which – as you can see from the picture – is only equipped to drop a single huge bomb in a diving run. So they lose points for (a) stealing the design, (b) making it ugly, and (c) being technically inaccurate.

  4. JNelsonW says:

    I agree with WMeredith, but with about 90% less angry.

  5. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    Airship, it actually appears that Johnny Cupcake used the dive bomber, his design is the one on the right. His does have cherries on top of the cupcakes so he wins points there. Urban Outfitters, completely scuzzy…

  6. sixtoe says:

    Yeah, par for the course for Urban Outfitters. A few years back, they “borrowed” the famous Jim Marshall photograph of Johnny Cash flipping the bird for a T-shirt design. Insert lawsuit here.

    Johnny Cupcake’s gotta get him some trademarks. And Urban’s got to get some designers that know the difference between an original idea and ripping off other artists. I know they have some talented designers on staff, but what are they teaching kids in design school these days?

  7. JNelsonW says:

    Rowdy- I think Airship was correct, unless I’m confused? Isn’t Johnny Cupcake’s the one on the left (red, green and yellow), and urban outfitter’s the on the right (White, pink & purple, with cherries).

  8. D says:

    The problem, of course, is now you have a company with deep pockets and numeorus lawyers on retainer versus the exact opposite.

  9. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    JNelsonW, the Johnny Cupcakes design is on the right, with the cherries. Who’s more likely to use a waifish looking, vaguely ethnic model to peddle their crap, Urban Outfitters or a guy named Johnny Cupcakes? You be the judge.

  10. JNelsonW says:

    Where are you getting that from? If you click on the link it sure seems to clearly label the red one as Cupcake’s; and the grey one as Urban outfitter’s. Also, it reads:

    Above you will see the Red Jet t-shirt dropping cupcakes that I originally sent to them, as a sample, before I decided to keep my shirts out of Urban Outfitters. They KEPT my sample shirts, copied the idea of one of them so far, and is now mass producing them with their ‘Urban Renewal’ company name on the inside .

  11. Joel Johnson says:

    My wording was stupid. The UO shirt is on the left.

  12. Joel Johnson says:

    Or god, I don’t know. I’m confused. YOU GET THE POINT.

  13. SupaDave says:

    Where’s all this confusion coming from?

    According to JohnnyCupcakes.com the red shirt is the original.

    The cherry cupcakes is the Urban Outfitters.

  14. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    Okay, my fault, I will never rely on the editor of this stupid site ever again…ever…ever…ever. You’ve made a monkey of me for the last time Johnson!!!

    I didn’t click through and read the link closely enough…my mistake.

    But seriously, the red one looks more like a Catalog shot whereas the cherries on top one looks like something a guy who calls himself Johnny Cupcakes would put out. Kudos Urban Outfitters, you’ve been out merchandised by a guy with a pastry for a psuedonym.

    PS. You know how they say you should never play poker with a guy named after a state? I guess you should never argue planes with guy who’s handle is Airship.

  15. Trackback says:

    Urban Outfitters may be staffed by design-stealing bastards, but sometimes their mining of retro culture dusts off a look that feels new. This “Nomad Traveler Speaker”, for instance, clad entirely in a tweed vinyl. You can plug in your iPod or listen to AM/FM radio. Very sharp.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is total Urban Outfitters. The are famous in the industry for hiring loads of “fresh outta school” designers, and sending them to industry shows and stores with cameras. The young designers are just stoked they got such a huge job and are not quite seasoned enough to know how wrong this is.

    In addition, had a friend that was asked to pitch his line to them but in his case they carried a few poeces as a test. Things sold great but they were not interested in aything the next season. (After being shown). The subsiquent season half his line was in UO under their own label. Cheap Bastards. It’s not like they aren’t making loads of money.