Conglomerate E-Land ‘SPAO x EXO’ Products Under Fire For Copying Yoo Ah In’s ‘Love City’ Design

Giant fashion retail group “E-land” (or E.Land) caught up in plagiarism allegations of Yoo Ah In’s Hangeul Love City shirt design.

E-Land Group (hangul:이랜드그룹) is a South Korean conglomerate headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It takes part in retail malls, restaurants, theme parks, hotels and construction businesses as well as its cornerstone, fashion apparel business. It has operations worldwide through its subsidiary E-Land World, including China, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, United States, Europe (England, Italy). E.Land Group owns 60 brands in Korea.

At the moment E-Land Group, the creator of fashion brand ‘SPAO’, is under fire for copying Yoo Ah In’s design for their latest collaboration with EXO.


In 2014, Yoo Ah In dedicated his talent for a charity project with fashion brand ‘NOHANT’. His unique design combining Hangul and the English alphabet to spell out the names of various cities such as ‘ㅅ E O U L’, ‘P A ㄹ I S’, ‘ㄹ O N D O N’, and so on, became a huge hit. He named it NOHANT “Love City”. Many celebrities, fashionistas, including their kids, were spotted wearing shirts and sweatshirts by Yoo Ah In x NOHANT Love City. See the designing process of his ‘Love City’ creativity here.



Now 2 years later in celebration of Hangul Day, a big fashion group “E-Land” through its brand ‘SPAO’ revealed new products for their charity project with popular Korean boyband EXO, October 9. Despite the good cause behind the special collaboration, ‘SPAO x EXO’ is being criticized for a similarity to Yoo Ah In’s design.

The unique lettering combining the Hangul and English alphabet spells out the names of the EXO members, and the design appears to be similar, maybe even exactly the same, as Yoo Ah In’s design for ‘NOHANT’ Love City. For instance: ㄷI.O, ㅅEHUN, etc. SPAO named the design with “EXO shirts Hangul One on One”.

When the products turned into a controversy, ‘SPAO’ took down several items off of their website, listing them as, “SOLD OUT. These products are no longer available.”


Yoo Ah In/NOHANT’s representative told Dispatch on Oct.12, “They didn’t ask or tell us about this beforehand. We just discovered it after they released the product.” They also said their design was not registered, therefore the trademark legal action is unlikely be done.

However, fashion experts pointed out that SPAO has done the violations of the creativity and intellectual rights. “This design came from Yoo Ah In’s creative idea, and it’s been widely known. Creative commons attribution is clearly protected by the law.”

Unfair Competition Prevention Act has the ability to complement the trademark and copyright laws. The law also includes “act of transferring a product that mimics the shape of the goods produced by others, including rental, exhibition and sales.”


A patent attorney Hwang Seong Pil said, “The act of copying the fashion creations and the creativity rights violations in the retail market is very well known. If there’s the case of unauthorized use of the outcomes from the efforts made by others, it may categorize in the violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.”

Attorney Hwang added, “The Hangul-English lettering combination was created by Yoo Ah In two years ago and his work is widely known to the public. In that sense, SPAO design is violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.”

Currently, many netizens are expressing anger toward E-Land Group’s ‘SPAO x EXO’ for copying Yoo Ah In’s work. They commented, “E-Land copies all the time. Something really needs to be done”, “They are a clothing company and they can’t come up with any new ideas and end up copying..”, “Wow, copy and paste”, and more.

The SPAO plagiarism controversy also became NO.1 Nate entertainment news search on October 12.

I would like to note that this act has nothing to do with EXO, because it was done by the SPAO designers.

Meanwhile, Yoo Ah In is still busy with his new fashion design with his Studio Concrete creative team, called CCRT-Aerospace. He doesn’t seem to weigh on this “plagiarism” issue, because there’s no stopping for creative people, like Yoo Ah In, who have a lot more original ideas to show. And we can’t wait to see the new surprise he will give to us ASAP! 😀


Source: Dispatch, SBS Fune, Allkpop

3 Responses to “Conglomerate E-Land ‘SPAO x EXO’ Products Under Fire For Copying Yoo Ah In’s ‘Love City’ Design”
  1. Marie says:

    Dear Yoo Ah In, I know the Love City design is 100% purely for charity for children and for a good cause, so you didn’t think about registering the brand or making money out of it for yourself. But next time, please register all your creative designs 🙂

  2. Laura says:

    I knew this would happen 😱 The fake products are already spread and sold by a certain country too. This is so lame!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] the copycat just began stealing the design, Master Sik and his team come back with the new creative idea to show. In it to win […]

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