Uh oh. Forever 21 might be in trouble and here’s why
Despite its name, Forever 21 is a store where girls and women of all ages shop. You can go to Forever 21 for your basics, your gold sequined New Years dress, your orange and baby-blue striped romper —Forever 21 has it ALL. And with its huge customer base (and basically never-ending supply of fun, fast fashion), the company racked in a whopping $3.85 billion in 2014. However, despite its immense success, Forever 21 is not immune to trouble, and it may be in hot water after being accused of stealing designs.
Sam Larson, pictured below, is a freelance artist in Portland, Oregon. As BuzzFeed News reports, Larson used to be a designer at a footwear company, but has since gone solo to freelance and sell his art on his own online store. “I’ve been creating art since I could hold a pencil,” he told BuzzFeed.
With a following of over 243,000 people on Instagram, Larson has become immensely successful online —but this sort of attention has led to some major plagiarism and idea stealing. “It happens all the time with my work,” he said. And recently, Larson discovered a major company had blatantly stolen his work. You guessed it: Forever 21. Larson created a (beautiful!) typography of the word “Wild” two years ago and posted it to his Instagram. . . and that same design suddenly appeared on a Forever 21 muscle tee in a blatant copy of the design, other than a slight tweak to the “I.” “It’s gut-wrenching to see my art turned into a product without any permission to try to profit from. It’s just wrong,” he told BuzzFeed. He decided to take to Instagram to share the images side-by-side and call out the clothing company. “I normally keep this stuff private, but this is just too ridiculous,” Larson wrote in the caption. “I hope you plan on paying me royalties for stealing my art @forever21.”
The post got over 13,000 likes, with many of his fans and fellow artists calling out the company and demanding them to take action with the hashtag #PaySamLarson.
“I put so much time and effort into my work to try to make it as freelance artist, and then companies do this,” Larson said.
A spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed that they couldn’t comment because of “pending litigation.” However, this isn’t the first time that Forever 21 has been in hot water for design stealing. In fact, just last month, H&M sued for “copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition” due to a palm print tote bag Forever 21 sold that looked suspiciously similar to a previous H&M design.
Sadly, Forever 21 isn’t the only company that’s been accused of design plagiarism. Earlier this year, Target came under fire for selling T-shirts with the exact same design that an Oregon clothing designer had created for her online store. Just this summer, an artist filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming that the coffee company used a design that “closely resembled” her artwork. And there’s also Urban Outfitters, which has been accused of plagiarizing from local artists in the past. Yikes.
If Forever 21 did, indeed take this artist’s design without his permission, we do hope they right their wrong —and own up to it.
(Images via Instagram.)