Uh Oh: Forever 21 Is Accused of Ripping Off Its Designs Again
Just over a week after Kylie and Kendall Jenner were accused of ripping off a shoe design from Chanel, another copycat scandal has emerged, this time with Forever 21 at its center. Alala, an activewear brand known for its stellar use of mesh panel inserts, is speaking out against the fast-fashion retailer over their activewear line designs.
The styles in question, noticed by an Alala client, include the company’s Flyweight Hoodie (left, $110) and a lookalike of which appears to have since been removed or sold out from Forever 21’s site (right).
The accusation is certainly not a new one for the retailer: Designers have even taken them to court on some occasions. In fact, in 2011, Jezebel reported that the brand had been sued upwards of 50 times, but hasn’t lost a single case in court.
In 2015, there was even evidence the brand was ripping off its own competitors, with a VERY similar bag design to H&M’s. In August of last year, it was indie designer Sporty & Rich. Then in October, Bow & Drape.
Unfortunately, as Racked has previously reported, fashion is not protected under copyright law, as it isn’t considered art. That means the actions of the brand technically aren’t illegal. UCLA law professor Kal Raustiala told the outlet then, “Fashion has never been included under copyright laws because in the US it has always been viewed as useful or functional.”
As long as a company isn’t selling trademarked goods (AKA counterfeits), such as logos, knockoff designs are considered to be fair game in the eyes of the law. Some argue that the practice keeps the design biz afloat in a phenomenon known as “piracy paradox:” the theory that the copycat effect actually helps designers move goods, as by the time they trickle down to the masses, people are eyeing the runway’s new wares for consumption.
While that may ring true for big name designers, indie brands, such as Alala, arguably don’t always fare as well. “I feel very conflicted, especially since some of the designs were blatant copies being sold at incredibly low prices,” Alala founder/CEO Denise Lee told Refinery 29. “On the one hand, you could argue our designs are public domain that anyone can access. On the other, we are a small team working hard on designing product that our customers will love and building our brand, so it was disheartening.”
Considering the fact that a last attempt at a change to the law, with the proposed Innovation Design Protection Act, failed to pass Congress back in 2013, there’s likely little recourse Alala will have against the retail giant, but it’s certainly good for consumers to know whose design they’re buying to be able to make their own buying decisions on the matter.
What do you think is the best way to solve the copycat fashion crisis? Share with us @BritandCo.
Fall is right around the corner, and we're getting amped up for our next session of Selfmade, Brit + Co's 10-week interactive startup school. Designed to help you create a new business or grow your existing one, this course is personally led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and co-founder Anjelika Temple, and supported by more than a dozen of the top female entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors in the country. Students receive personalized coaching on everything from how to get out of your comfort zone to how to scale your business, and everything in between. And now, thanks to Office Depot, even more of you can join the course!
For the fall session, we're thrilled to team up with Office Depot to grant 200 FREE scholarship seats to the course. Scholarships are open to US residents, focusing on women of color, women from underserved and underrepresented communities, and women in need of support to help them trail-blaze. After all, we firmly believe that your support system is a huge part of how you achieve greatness, and we are here to cheer all of you on.
To nominate yourself or someone you know for a scholarship, head to our nomination form right here. The deadline for scholarship nominations is September 27th — it's time to take the leap!
Beyond the scholarship, Office Depot is all about helping you accomplish more. Whether it be the start phase, growth phase or keep businesses going phase, Office Depot offers a full suite of business solutions, including services and products, to help you work from anywhere, organize and save time and help build your brand.
So what are you waiting for? Take a chance on yourself and get yourself one step closer to truly being selfmade. Learn more about the Selfmade program, apply for a scholarship and prepare to be inspired :)