8/23/17: As of today, Forever21 released the following statement to Femestella:
“The shirt in question was bought from a third party source. As soon as we were alerted to the issue by Wildfang, we respectfully removed it from the website. Because it did not have any trademark or IP protection, there were no red flags raised at the time of purchase.”
8/19/17: A few days ago, Forever21 posted a new “Wild Feminist” tee that was nearly an exact replica of the one designed by Oregon-based brand Wildfang.
Wildfang, a feminist fashion company for tomboys, has become a cult favorite. You’ve probably seen their popular “Wild Feminist” tee on celebs like Janelle Monae, Kristen Stewart, Kate Mara, and more. It’s this same shirt that Forever21 tried to pass off as their own.
The copycat first came to Wildfang’s attention when a customer emailed to ask if they were now selling their merch at Forever21. CEO Emma McIlroy told Femestella,
“I was pretty heartbroken when I saw it, to be honest.”
Wildfang took to Instagram to post a side-by-side comparison with the caption,
“Uhh does this mean we’ve made it??? @Forever21 ripped us off. (Ya think they’re donating to PP and ACLU? ?) #trademarkinfringement.”
They’ve also started taking legal action, of course, but have not heard back yet. McIlroy added,
“They have a horrible track record for stealing designs from other companies and independent artists, I’m sure this won’t be the last time.”
This isn’t even the first instance of theft that Wildfang has had to deal with. Harper’s Bazaar previously stole their “Wild Feminist” design for a patch, which the magazine even admitted to over email.
We always knew that fast-fashion retailers stole from luxury brands, but there’s now a growing trend of places like Forever21 and Zara going after independent artists and stealing their designs. Others who have been ripped off include Tuesday Bassen, Valfré, and Robin Eisenberg. Pin and patch designs seem to be particularly vulnerable at the moment.
As for Forever21’s “Wild Feminist” imitation tee, the shirt has already been taken off the site, with the original link redirected to the brand’s homepage. Yet even with the situation seemingly squashed for now, brands like Wildfang still continue to face trademark infringements.
“There are 100 people on Amazon who ripped of our shirt. It happens every day. This seems to be how the fashion industry works.”
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.