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.
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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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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14 Adorable Products To Buy That Support Good Causes

Why buy boring old toilet paper when you could buy some that goes towards installing toilets in impoverished areas? (Yes, this exists. Stay tuned.)

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Online shopping is no rarity in this day and age. Nearly everyone has once been guilty of adding item after item to their shopping cart then realizes their grand total is pretty much twice the amount you set out to spend. This is maybe not the best of situations to be in, I must admit...

However, if you have an issue with overspending online then you might as well put that money towards a good cause. So, next time you have that itch to online shop, head in the direction of one of these charitable brands and products. Treat yourself to a cute bracelet or fresh coffee beans or even some toilet paper while also supporting a cause attempting to make the world a better place.

If you happen to have that online shopping itch RIGHT NOW then click the links provided beneath each individual product or brand's photo.

1. Who Gives A Crap toilet paper

Who Gives A Crap

Who Gives A Crap is a toilet paper company that fills online orders. Their toilet paper 100% recycled and made WITHOUT trees. Also, 50% of its profits are donated to build functioning toilets and waste systems in areas that do not have them.

Their most recent monetary donation towards this cause was $46,000.

2. 4 Ocean bracelets

4 Ocean

4 Ocean is another charitable company that produces bracelets in efforts to end the ocean plastic crisis. Each of their bracelets is made from recycled materials, and with the purchase of one of these bracelets one pound of trash is removed from the world's oceans. Also, each individual bracelet often supports a different charitable cause as well as removing this pound of waste. The bracelet I have from this company went towards supporting Coral Restoration Foundation for example.

To date, 4 Ocean has removed 4,509,249 pounds of waste from the world's largest water sources.

3. Pura Vida bracelets

Pura Vida

Pura Vida is probably one of the most well-known brands on this list. The company was founded in 2010 in Costa Rica and was met with extreme popularity. Pura Vida makes and sells jewelry (primarily bracelets) in order to support and employ artisans worldwide. The company also carries special charity collections of bracelets in which the proceeds directly go towards causes such as suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness, Parkinson's disease, and sexual assault awareness.

4. Black Rifle Coffee Company coffee and apparel

Black Rifle Coffee Company

This company is owned and run by veterans. BRCC not only encourages patriotism, but also gives a portion of its proceeds to charitable causes for U.S. veterans, law enforcement, fire departments, and first responders.

5. United By Blue apparel and accessories

United By Blue

All of United By Blue's clothing sales go towards cleaning up the world's bodies of water. For every product they sell, the company removes 1 pound of waste from oceans, creeks, rivers, beaches, streams, any body of water. On top of all of this, United By Blue also organizes waste cleanup that the company as well as it followers can participate in.

They have currently removed 1,756,888 pounds of waste.

6. Yuhme water bottles

Yuhme

Yuhme is a company that produces and sells reusable water bottles made from sugarcane. With the sale of each singular bottle, 6 months of clean drinking water is provided to people in the Central African Republic. The company partners with the organization Water For Good, which is a organization geared specifically towards providing the Central African Republic with drinking water and bringing their community together as a whole.

Yuhme has now donated 44,148 months of drinking water, avoided 1,800,796 km worth of driving emissions, and have avoided sending 15,698,328 plastic bottles to landfills.

7. S'well water bottles

S'well

S'well is popular brand that was actually endorsed by Oprah Winfrey at one point. The water bottles are stainless steel and double-walled, designed to keep your water cold for a long time while also seeking to eliminate the waste of plastic bottles. S'well currently is in the midst of their "Million Bottle Project" which aims to eliminate 100 million plastic water bottles from the Earth's landfills and waterways by next year. By buying one of their bottles, you are not only lessening your own personal amount of waste but also aiding this project.

8. Pawz apparel

Pawz

Paws is a clothing company that donates 10% of its profits animal shelters across the United States. They also use their public platform to support and endorse no-kill shelters and bring awareness to the abuse and euthanization of innocent animals.

9. Ivory Ella apparel

Ivory Ella

Ivory Ella is a brand and online store that is affiliated with the association Save the Elephants. The company was started in order to combat the ivory trade and the abuse of elephants. The brand's clothing line donates a portion of all of its proceeds to Save the Elephants, which fights for the conservation and protection of wild elephants.

10. Pela cases

Pela Case

I'm sure a lot of you have seen these eco-friendly cases advertised on your Instagram feeds. The phone cases are not only compostable and prevent the waste of plastic phone cases in landfills, but their sale also goes to help the organization 1% for the Planet. Pela also currently carries specific lines of cases that are geared towards helping our oceans by assisting charity organizations such as Save The Waves and the Surfrider Foundation. Also, these cases are adorable and very durable. I have one, and they do a great job of protecting your phone.

11. LUSH lotion

LUSH

LUSH is not only cruelty-free, but it also all natural ingredients in their products. The company's Sustainable Lush Fund projects work to support regenerative agriculture worldwide. LUSH, overall, is very well-known for its cosmetics packaged is 100% recyclable materials, but there is one product in particular at the moment that assists a charitable cause: Charity Pot lotion. 100% of the profits made on this lotion are donated to grassroots organizations working for environmental conservation and awareness, animal welfare, as well as human rights.

12. Love Your Melon hats

Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon was started with the goal of putting a hat on every child's hat that was battling cancer. The company donates 50% of the profits from its hats (and other assorted clothing accessories) to the Love Your Melon Fund that assists their non-profit partners is fighting pediatric cancer.

13. BeYOUtiful apparel

BeYOUtiful Foundation

BeYOUtiful Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps connect breast cancer survivors to salons and hair stylists in efforts to make women feel beautiful all throughout these hard times in their lives. All profits from their line of apparel go towards the organization's efforts.

14. TOMS shoes

TOMS

TOMS is a well-known company that was founded in 2006 as a result of the company's founder witnessing the hardships of children growing up without shoes. So, for every pair of shoes TOMS sells, the company gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. However, the company has now branched out to the sale of eyewear which assists in giving children in need prescription glasses, the sale of coffee which helps in the distribution of clean drinking water, as well as the sale of bags which supports the continuation of safe birthing services.

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