What's Up With Major Fashion Brands Stealing From Independent Artists?

What's Up With Major Fashion Brands Stealing From Independent Artists?

Artists are being ripped off, and there's not much they can do about it.

If you’ve ever been to a Forever 21 or an Urban Outfitters store, you know that walking through their brightly lit aisles without tossing every colorful top and glittery accessory into your basket is nearly impossible. At $12 a T-shirt, who can blame you? However, every time you purchase a pin, phone case, or witty T-shirt from a major fashion brand like PacSun or Forever 21, you run the risk of unknowingly supporting the theft and reproduction of a small independent artist’s work. Just this month, Tuesday Bassen, a Los Angeles-based illustrator, discovered that the clothing company Zara had blatantly plagiarized her artwork for their newly released summer collection of pins and clothing —

a claim she proved in an Instagram post that showed her designs in a side-by-side comparison with the company’s.

After contacting Zara, she received only a demeaning response from the company that attempted to invalidate the effort and creativity she had put into creating the original designs: “The lack of distinctiveness of your client’s purported designs makes it very hard to see how a significant part of the population anywhere in the world associate the signs with Tuesday Bassen.” The copied items are currently suspended from sale while Inditex, Zara’s parent company, investigates the situation.

This is not the only instance of the Spanish clothing brand stealing designs from independent artists. After Bassen’s claim of Zara’s plagiarism, the owners of the Canadian boutique Crywolf came forward with a similar accusation by posting an Instagram photo of their “Healing Cloud” pin alongside a photo of a nearly identical pin sold by Zara.

Say the designers, “As a small company ourselves, we can’t even really afford any kind of legal representation.”

Zara is certainly not the only large fashion brand whose obviously plagiarized and sometimes poorly reproduced versions of small artists’ designs have been exposed in recent years. Forever 21, the American fashion retailer that brings in over $4 billion in sales yearly, is a repeat offender. In 2013, Forever 21 released a men’s shirt featuring an image of a figure looking up at an etched mountain, reading “You can conquer anything” — an illustration which artist Kelly Bastow had posted on her Tumblr account the year before. When Bastow contacted Forever 21’s complaint center, the retailer was quick to blame their vendors, stating that the “tee was purchased from a third party vendor.” New York artist Jon Contino experienced a similar case in 2012, when a friend sent him a photo of a Forever 21 tank top featuring a very familiar anchor design, which was quickly removed from the store’s website. Also among Forever 21’s accusers is Sam Larson, a freelance artist from Portland, Oregon whose Instagram post of a crop top featuring his art caused an outpour of tweets under the hashtag “#paysamlarson.

Urban Outfitters is also notorious for art theft, as full-time Etsy jewelry seller Stevie Koerner found out in 2011 when replicas of her “A World Of Love” state pendants began popping up in Urban Outfitters stores. Urban responded by claiming that the fact that so many identical pieces exist on Etsy proves that “the idea is not unique to Koerner and she can in no way claim to be its originator.” Three years later, James Soares, who sells art prints on the website Society6, claimed on his Tumblr account that one of his original patterns had been ripped off and sold on a miniskirt at Urban Outfitters (another claim that was met by the piece in question being removed almost immediately from the brand’s website.) The social media attention these and a number of other cases have brought to Urban Outfitters’ plagiarizing tendency inspired the creation of the Tumblr account Boycott Urban Outfitters, and a popular hashtag of the same name, dedicated to exposing the company’s art theft and encouraging readers not to shop there. In an age where every lie, cover up, or false move can be quickly unearthed and spread by social media detectives, it is no surprise that large clothing brands are having a hard time getting away with blatantly ripping off designs without sparking internet outrage, news stories, celebrity statements, and even the creation of a website entirely dedicated to raising awareness of and supporting arts affected by art theft, started by an artist whose drawings have been stolen from the retailer in the past.

So why do so many well-known brands continue to swipe designs, despite the mess of bad PR that is guaranteed to follow? Because they are able to avoid paying for the use of art that has already received a positive response (albeit from a much smaller audience), and there is nothing that lesser-known independent artists can do to stop them. According to lawyer Leila Amineddoleh, who specializes in copyright law, it is hard for independent artists to pursue these types of cases in court, as “pursuing these lawsuits is very costly and a lot of artists can’t afford to go through with them.” By stealing artwork, brands show a blatant disregard for artists who depend on their own creativity, talent, and hard work to support themselves.

Artists can only hope that in the future, major fashion brands will be held accountable for their plagiarism (or even better, show a sense of morality and respect for artists by stopping the theft altogether). For the time being, support independent artists by buying products on Etsy and from www.stoparttheft.com, and from the artists mentioned in this article, whose websites are linked under each of their names.
Cover Image Credit: Fast Company

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29 Stores That Will Just Give You Free Stuff On Your Birthday

All I want for my birthday is a bunch of free stuff!

October holds the record for having the fourth highest amount of birthdays! With so many people having October birthdays, like myself, I wanted to share with everyone 29 stores that will give you free stuff for your birthday! If you weren't born in October, don't worry, you'll still be able to get free stuff when your birthday rolls around!

1. Starbucks

Who doesn't love a good Starbucks drink? Sign up for Starbucks Rewards, and you can get a free drink on your birthday!

2. Ulta

Free beauty products? Yes, please! Get a free birthday gift and double points on purchases made during your birthday month by signing up for Ulta's Ultamate Rewards program!

3. Sephora

Want even more free make-up? Sign up for their Beauty Insider rewards program to get a free which you can redeem any time during your birthday month!

4. Baskin Robbins

You can get a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday when you join their Birthday Club!

5. Old Navy

Old Navy will give you a free birthday surprise just for signing up for their email newsletter!

6. Buffalo Wild Wings

Who wouldn't want some free B-Dubs? By joining the Buffalo Circle club, you can receive a free order of snack size wings on your birthday!

7. Benefit Cosmetics

Get a free brow arch when you visit a Benefit Browbar beauty lounge during the week of your birthday! You don't even need to be a member!

8. Chick-fil-a

Sign up for email insiders for a free birthday surprise!

9. World Market

You can get a free birthday surprise when you sign up for the World Market Explorers Rewards program!

10. Bare Minerals

Whaaaaat! More free make-up? Sign up for Friends and Benefits, or FAB, to get a free birthday gift!

11. Krispy Kreme

Join their E-Club to receive a free donut on your birthday!

12. Sonic

Receive a special birthday treat when you sign up for a My Sonic account!

13. Olive Garden

Sign up for their eClub and receive a free appetizer or dessert on your birthday!

14. Great American Cookies

Get a free birthday surprise when you join the Cookie Club!

15. Dippin' Dots

By signing up for the Dot Crazy! rewards program, you can receive a free cup on your birthday!

16. Panera

When you join MyPanera, you can receive a free birthday pastry!

17. Red Robin

Yuuuuum! Get a free birthday burger when you register for Red Robin Royalty program!

18. Waffle House

Members of the Waffle House Regulars club can get a free waffle on their birthday!

19. Texas Roadhouse

Get a birthday gift by signing up for their email club!

20. IHOP

By signing up for Pancake Revolution, you can receive a free meal on your birthday! That's right, an entire meal!

21. Cracker Barrel

Go to Cracker Barrel on your birthday and get a free dessert!

22. Ruby Tuesday

Get a free birthday burger by joining their email club!

23. Wingstop

Members of The Club can get a free order of seasoned fries on their birthday!

24. Denny's

Go to Denny's, show them you ID, and receive a free Grand Slam on your birthday!

25. Cinnabon

Get a special birthday gift by registering for Club Cinnabon!

26. Longhorn Steakhouse

Create a My Longhorn account to receive a free treat on your birthday!

27. Zaxby's

Sign up for Zax Mail and receive a free Nibbler on your birthday!

28. Hooters

By joining the Hooters E-Club, you can get a free birthday gift!

29. TGI Fridays

Members of Friday's Rewards Loyalty Program get a free dessert on their birthday!

Cover Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/8606910883

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To Work Any Job In Retail, Thick Skin Is A Definite Requirement

Seriously, if you don't have thick skin then this is not the life for you.


"You need to greet everyone with a smile and make sure every single person sees that smile. They are not considered customers anymore, they are considered guests."

"Make sure our guests know that they are getting the utmost care in the world and make their experience there count!"

"Take your time with our guests, it's important that they don't feel rushed. They are only there for a short period of time, don't make it any harder on them."

If you've ever worked retail, you definitely heard these words when you initially started your training. Now, all of this seems fine and dandy. In a perfect world, these are the bare minimum requirements when it comes to working in customer service. Make eye contact, smile, greet them with more than just a "hello," make sure they have what they need, smile. "Have a great day!" Of course, this is going to be easy right? No one is going to approach you with a terrible attitude when you act like that.


I'm here to give you the real requirements that you need for customer service. Working retail is more survival of the fittest than it is "kill them with kindness."


1. Racism, Prejudice, Sexual Harassment, and Sexism exist! (Read later on! This is going to be big.)

2. Be prepared to be treated worse than dirt: Some people look at those who work retail as maids and as "less than" human beings. Meaning, they will treat you any way you want because you are getting paid to sit there and deal with their attitudes and if you don't like it then you can always quit. There are customers who will treat you like you just called them ugly at the door. For some reason, some people seem to forget that we are people too! We have feelings and emotions as well and just because we are on the other side of the counter doesn't mean they can talk to us any kind of way they want. Trust me. One tiny issue and then it's "where is your manager?" Don't even get me started when you actually become the manager. Now, this doesn't mean come out your mouth and disrespect them, you need to have patience and try to get them out there as quickly as possible.

3. Your managers might suck and everything will be your fault: Let's be honest, managers can be just as terrible as every other associate there. They're just getting paid to act that way. They have their job but they are also tasked with knowing that they have to manage you to do your job as well. And of course, everything will most likely fall on you. The more driven and ambitious you are, the more they will push you to work harder. And when you can't get it right, everything falls apart and they will blame you. Of course, not all managers are like this. But just know, there is a high possibility for this.

4. All of your actions will come back to haunt you: Whether it's good or bad, every little thing you do in your store gets noticed by someone. If you are a natural hard worker, everyone will see this and this will have a positive and negative feedback for you. Your managers will give you more responsibility and they will start to trust you with holding down the fort while they are around. Happy manager Happy employee. However, here comes your associates who hate that you aren't as laid back as they are. They are grateful that you're working harder, but that takes away their shine and makes them look lazy in the eye of managers. Customers will notice that you made fresh coffee for them and they will always greet you with a smile every time they come in the store. You can get into a disagreement with customers and they will make sure you remember that disagreement for the rest of your life!!


BACK TO MY NUMBER ONE REASON: Racism exists. No matter what anyone says, you experience so much of it working retail. Black, White, Hispanic, Indian, racist people do not care. They make sure that you know that they are racist and will say anything to get under your skin. WOMEN NEED TO TAKE SPECIAL CARE OF THEMSELVES WHEN WORKING RETAIL! It is guaranteed that you will get hit on while working retail. And I don't mean, "You look beautiful tonight." I mean the vigorous, "When do you clock out so I can give you a ride home?" "Give me your number. No? You ugly anyway." They say the most disrespectful things to women in hopes that, for some odd reason, we will fall for it and just run in their arms. There are people who want to touch you, grab you and just feel on you. And they believe that you can't say anything to them because you're on the clock. They are wrong!

As an African American Assistant Store Manager of a 7-Eleven, I know the in and outs of retail. Before I worked at 7-Eleven I was working as a cashier at Walmart. And none of this is easy. I can't tell you how many times people have tried to get into physical altercations with me, how many times I've called the cops, how many times I've had to ask the cops to take me home cause someone threatened to follow me to my bus stop and how much racism I deal with on a basis. I've had customers tell me, "No. It's a 7-Eleven. They wouldn't allow a woman to be a manager here." "They're really allowing your kind to handle money?" She says as she gestures to her hand signaling me my skin tone compared to her own. I've had people completely disregard the answer I gave them just to say: "Is there a MAN I can talk to about this?"

Trust me, retail is not for the faint of heart. If you are going into this world thinking, "I'll just work at Walmart." It's not all fun and games. There are real-life issues when you decide to work in customer service. You just need three things to survive:

1. Patience

2. A backbone

3. Thick skin

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