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How Three Germans Are Cloning the Web

How the Samwer brothers make millions by cloning American Internet businesses
How Three Germans Are Cloning the Web
Illustration by 731

A purple rooster sculpture made from recycled grape Fanta bottle labels. Clocks designed to hang in corners. Bauhaus posters from the 1920s. Hand-painted vintage typewriters. These are some of the carefully curated objects for sale on Fab.com, the fast-growing flash-deal site for designer goods. Launched out of a loft in New York City’s Garment District last June, Fab had sales of $20 million in its first six months and is on track to earn $100 million in 2012. “We owe our success to keeping it real, authenticity, being close to designers,” says Jason Goldberg, Fab’s chief executive officer. That, and “offering people objects and design products they wouldn’t find elsewhere. No knockoffs.”

Six months after Fab launched, it was knocked off. An e-commerce design site called Bamarang opened for business in Germany, the U.K., France, Australia, and Brazil. Bamarang sells cake stands made from vinyl records, miniature speakers handcrafted out of apricot wood, and plates painted to look cracked. Like Fab, it offers discounts of up to 70 percent on designer goods. The layout, color scheme, and typefaces are also suspiciously Fab-like. Bamarang even has a beautiful shot of an Eames chair as the background photo for its sign-in page, just as Fab does.