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When Athleta rolled out a pair of striped leggings eerily similar to indie yoga brand K-Deer Haute Yoga's designs, K-Deer's devoted Instagram fans let Athleta have it. Hashtags like #istandwithkdeer popped up along with angry comments, and now Athleta is pulling the yoga pants off shelves.
Gap Inc. spokesperson Debbie Felix told Fortune: "At Athleta, our customers always come first and, after hearing recent feedback on the High Rise Bold Stripe Chaturanga Tight, we have decided to remove it from our assortment."
K-Deer designer Kristine Deer told Fortune that the striped yoga pants are her best-selling product. Not only that, a portion of sales from the "Signature Stripe" collection raises money for non-profits. "It was one of those jaw-dropping moments," she said about seeing Athleta's designs.
Here are a few of the Instagram comments in support of K-Deer:
"@athleta, it's bad enough you're stealing someone else's designs. But @k.deer donates a portion of the proceeds from their striped leggings to local charities...you really want to take away from that?"
"@athleta has blatantly stolen @k.deer signature strips for their new collection, three stripes to be exact. i personally know the amazing ladies of @k.deer and they are a beyond incredible!!! please support small business"
"Where's your integrity @athleta? @k.deer prints and quality are second to none. Every k-deer stripe has a story and a charitable donation. What's your story @athleta?"
Deer responded on her Instagram with a long message that reads in part:
In light of the hundreds of shares, comments and personal messages, the K-DEER team and I would like to thank you for sharing your loyal and heartfelt support. I'm so honored to be surrounded by a community of people who respect us and honor the values that our business has been built upon, as reflected in our Signature Stripes.
She told Fortune she didn't plan on pursuing legal action. "There’s nothing we can do from a legal standpoint. We can’t trademark a geometric print," she said.