Forever 21, the fast fashion retail giant known for its copycat ways, has been called out by a young US photographer.
Lauren Withrow filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas against Forever 21 for copyright infringement last week over a photograph that she claims to have taken. The image subsequently ended up on a Forever 21 tshirt without her consent, albeit with minor changes to the image.
Regular readers of Nylon mag and FD Luxe will be familiar with Withrow’s photographs. The 20 year old Texan also has a huge following on social media – her flickr account has been viewed over 5 million times.
In January 2011, Withrow published the photograph at the centre of the lawsuit on her flickr account. The image is of a female model with long blonde clipped to the right side of her head, wearing red lipstick and looking into the camera. In October 2013, Forever 21 began selling a shirt in its retail stores and online with an image that bears more than a passing resemblance. Although there were some minor alterations, the print is substantially the same.
We expect this one to settle out of court. As a brand, Forever 21 is worth approximately 3 billion dollars and settling intellectual property cases appears to be a part of their business strategy. Rather than pay a designer to license a design, it probably works out cheaper for them to steal a design and if they are sued, settle with the plaintiff. Companies including Diane Von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani and Anna Sui have all filed lawsuits against Forever 21 relating to copyright infringement. Countless smaller designers have also been copied by Forever 21, H&M and Nasty Gal. Sadly there is nothing they have been able to do to stop it. In many instances, small designers have contacted the copiers to address the situation but find their pleas go ignored. We wish Lauren success with her lawsuit!