Launched as a partnership between Seafolly and Gale, the 40-year-old model gained total control of Isola in January after Seafolly’s owner L Capital Asia dropped the brand late last year. Seafolly then launched their Milea range, using the same design and sales team as Isola.
Speaking of the similarities to the Herald Sun, Gale said: “I have seen the new Milea collection… I don’t think I am alone in noticing the striking resemblance.”
Adding that “imitation is the highest form of flattery” she went on to ask: “If something is successful and you have a customer base that is highly engaged, why wouldn’t you try and replicate that?”
Indeed, although the real question is why get rid of a successful brand in the first place just to replace it with a suspected copycat line?
Gale herself expressed similar confusion when speaking to Fairfax Media after the split was announced in August, describing Seafolly’s decision as “unusual” considering the brand’s success.
“Normally the case is the product is not selling, or stockists don’t want it any more. It’s very rare for it to be flourishing yet still be wound down,” she said.
With Isola being sold in 100 stores nationally, and taking in sales of $4 million in the 2014/15 financial year, Gale said the choice to axe the brand made little conventional sense.
The Herald Sun suggests Gale has “hinted that legal action might be on the cards”.
According to Seafolly though, the Isola range was cut because L Capital Asia didn’t see global potential in the brand.
According to The Daily Telegraph, L Capital Asia dropped the label after it was unable to go international with Isola due to trademark issues, particularly in the US, a key target market.
Speaking to the paper about the perceived similarity between the lines, Seafolly chief marketing officer Matthew Hayward stressed that Milea was a standalone sister brand for Seafolly.
“It stands on its own. It is from the Seafolly group with a completely new focus and agenda. This is completely new,” he said.
Hayward also touched on the brand’s choice of 29-year-old Australian model Elyse Taylor to front the new label.
“We chose Elyse because of her global reach and because of the lifestyle she leads. Younger women look at her and can be inspired by her and more mature women look at her and can relate, so she is a perfect bridge for all age groups,” Hayward said.
Speaking about being associated with Seafolly and Milea, Taylor has said it’s an honour. “You grow up wearing Seafolly and so to be a part of Milea is so incredible,” she said.