Fashion + Intellectual Property.
Forever 21, the international, box-box fashion store, is being sued by Feral Childe, an independent and sustainable womenswear collection that was started by two talented artists.
The grounds upon which the charges have been laid? Copyright Infringement.
After reading about this lawsuit, I was left with the following questions...
First: does this small womenswear line stand a chance against the international powerhouse that is Forever 21? How can it compete when the lawsuit itself barely breaks the news? Therefore, I must ask why this story isn't deemed newsworthy? (Much respect to the outlets who have run this story, specifically body politic, EcoSalon, Ecouterre, Jezebel, and Tree Hugger).
Second: is it the first time Forever 21 has been involved in something like this? Unfortunately, no; it definitely is not the first time. I cannot say I was surprised to hear of the other allegations. Nonetheless, the growing list is disconcerting. Anna Sui, Betsey Johnson, Diane von Furstenberg, Foley + Corinna, and Phillip Lim are among the designers who have taken action against Forever 21. (On top of all of this, the documentary film Made in LA addresses issues surrounding wages and working conditions fought for by Forever 21 employees. But that is another story for another blog post...)
Third: in the end, who loses? This is the hardest answer to choke down as it is the artists and the art that suffer. Alice Wu and Moriah Carlson, the duo behind Feral Childe, explain (to TreeHuger) that they "always strived to create the very best in innovative, ethically-produced clothing that is made to last"; the blatant duplication of this original design "is just plain wrong."
Therein lies my argument: interpretation (a translation; a version) and inspiration (to infuse into; to affect) are two very different things. Furthermore, to describe Forever 21's fabric as an "interpretation" of the Feral Childe textile is significantly far fetched an argument.
By no means should this post be considered an organized attack on Forever 21. Rather, I am interested in opening a dialogue that addresses the importance of the artist and the importance of intellectual property.
How do you feel about this story? Do you care about this issue?
Will a story like this affect your choices as a consumer? Why or why not?
I agree that a store such as Forever 21 serves a purpose; however, at what cost are you willing to capitalize on a "good deal" on fast fashion?
In closing, I respect the fact that we all have a certain allotment of discretionary dollars with which we can purchase as we desire. I simply prefer to know where my money is going and, once I know, I feel the information should be shared. Please remember to link with love and ensure we give credit (& compensation) where it is due.
(Photos courtesy of Donger / Burrroughs APC via Ecouterre).