There’s Inspiration…and There’s Theft
Fashion, like creativity, is very much fueled by inspiration. Inspiration, however, is when someone else’s idea or work triggers something in you, encouraging you to create something new maybe with similar themes, goals, patterns, etc. However, taking someone else’s work, copying it down to the detail, without remixing or changing anything about it, is not how inspiration works. Fast fashion culture has attempted at every turn to hide behind “inspiration” when they are called out for copying and not crediting or compensating the source.
Predatory Fast Fashion
Fast Fashion has become a major villain of the fashion industry. Designers are the life source for an entire industry that depends on new ideas and perspectives to refresh and give color to the world of fashion. Designers are the ones who keep fashion relevant and exciting. This responsibility in and of itself can be incredibly daunting and even incredibly difficult to achieve. Imagine how much more difficult this can be when the fruit of your hard physical and intellectual labor is then stolen and watered down for mass profit to line the pockets of a large company. This is the reality for independent and small-business designers.
Well-known and major brands including Fashion Nova, Asos, and Shein are infamous for fast fashion perpetration. Big fashion brands and companies such as these have been stealing from smaller companies and independent designers for years now. A practice often referred to as poaching.
d.bleu.dazzled, LLC v. Khloe Kardashian and Good American, LLC
In May 2020, Khloe Kardashian’s brand Good American (defendant) was named in a trade dress infringement and fraud lawsuit by Destiny Bleu on behalf of D.Bleu.Dazzled (plaintiff) in the Superior Court of California. The suit came to be after Kardashian’s brand allegedly purchased D.Bleu.Dazzled custom bodysuit pieces multiple times in 2016 and 2017 with the intention to allegedly commit fraud and mass-produce their version of Bleu’s work for Good American.
Prior to the lawsuit, Bleu was vocal about her account of the alleged fraud. Naturally, this sparked public discourse. To deal with everyone discussing the particulars of the alleged fraud, Kardashian’s team sent a cease and desist. Bleu was not moved by this fear tactic, she and her legal team said we’re just getting started. Just shy of a year later, the suit has been settled between the parties. The details of the resolution remain confidential. By standing up for herself and her business, Destiny Bleu has set a precedent and an example that this will not continue to stand, and silencing will not work.
Hanifa Stands Up to ASOS
On June 28, 2017 designer and owner of the brand Hanifa, Anifa Mvuemba spoke out about the poaching of her off-the-shoulder dress design by the large international fashion company Asos.
Hanifa has been worn by the likes of Ari Lennox, Mary J. Blige, Tracee Ellis Ross, and more. A follower of the brand was the first to bring to Anifa’s attention that her work was circulating on ASOS.
Shein is another culprit. This company has been called out countless times by not only designers, but artists across many mediums, for reproducing the work of others without consent, credit, or compensation. Miriama Diallo is one of the latest Shein victims. She discovered her stunning designs were copied in full and reproduced for Shein and another big brand, WeWoreWhat. Diallo in her own words:
Small companies and indie designers taking on the fashion world is not a simple feat. The process of creation and execution is not easy. How degrading and disrespectful it is to witness your hard work be stolen from you, undercutting your well-deserved profit. And not to mention, the cheap imitations are just insulting at best! For so many years now, small brands and independent designers are vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. It’s no coincidence that Black women are largely the ones being stolen from. Most small brands and indie designers may not have the resources and the capital to pursue legal action against these attacks, and they shouldn’t have to. This is how so many big-money brands get away with committing theft against small businesses and entrepreneurs without a shred of accountability.
This is not a victimless offense. There are real people with real pain, loss, and consequences that these big companies are causing.
Black women artists, designers, and small companies deserve to be paid and recognized for their work! We always stand on the side of advocating for Black women to get their rightful coins!
Consumers, you can do your part by continuing the conversation and advocating for designers and artists to get their rightful recognition. Keep your feet on the necks of these big companies. Let them know you will not stand for it. The biggest show of support is to not buy the cheap knockoffs, but from the source instead. Together we can evolve the culture of fashion and put an end to fast fashion fraud.