Forever 21 is stealing designs from designers, and we have the proof.
Everyone loves a good cheap frill, but if you’re wondering how exactly Forever 21 can keep churning out endlessly cute and fresh designs at rock bottom prices, we’ll give you a hint — it’s not just cheap sweatshop labor. Fresh, unique designs from original artists come at a cost, a steep cost, and if you want to pay $17.90 for a funky shirt, you best be prepared to forego ethics in a variety of ways. Why? Because for starters, Forever 21 has a history of stealing designs (hello, they’re still battling it out with Gucci), but their thievery doesn’t start and end with giant established fashion houses. Forever 21 is stealing designs from up and coming designers, creative workshops, and even non-profits. Why? Because cute is cute and people on Planet Earth apparently won’t cough up more than $20 for just about anything at mall stores. That’s science.
Case in point: what happened recently to WORD Agency’s pro-feminism tees. Get ready to be pissed enough to stop buying your disposable bathing suits at Forever 21.
When we first saw this shared on Facebook our office shared a collective “whaaaaaa?” head tilt, eye squint, and jaw drop, because this knockoff is Canal Street levels. It’s nearly identical, minus a little Arabic, Hebrew, and sleeves.
“This shirt was birthed from Zoila’s love for women,” shared co-creator Angela Carrasco of her partner Zoila Darton’s design. “She has been a staunch champion for women uplifting each other probably since birth. In 2016 she created a Mujer shirt for women’s history month which she gifted to women in her life and a few were sold. The idea for the Creator Shirt was created as an extension of the Mujer shirt that was more inclusive. Zoila is a Latina, black, and Jewish woman who has always believed in equality and solidarity for women.”
It sounds like a pretty uplifting, beautiful sentiment that’s especially vomit-worthy for Forever 21 to rip off. We’re not talking about a generic pair of jeans here. Forever 21 is stealing designs created to empower often slighted groups, like women, who make up the majority of their core customer base. It’s all pretty confusing.
Did someone at Forever 21 wake up one day and say “You know what’ll be crazy and fun and twisted? Let’s rip off female creativity, have women in sweatshops produce our stolen designs, and then sell it all back to women who don’t even realize?” Is that what happened? Because it seems that way.
Here’s the best part, Zoila and Angela told The Luxury Spot exclusively that 25% of the proceeds of their Creator shirt are being donated to Planned Parenthood, another place that’s aimed at serving the broader female community. Forever 21 has screwed women on both micro and macro levels now, and that takes some skill.
As for what happens next, it looks like Forever 21 pulled the shirt off their shelves, but Zoila and Angela are publicly asking the chain to be more responsible with their designs and donate all their proceeds from the sale of the stolen shirt design to Planned Parenthood. We won’t hold our breath.
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