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Zara has somehow managed to knock off runway designs from nearly every luxury designer in the game. Now, the Spain-based fast fashion company is being accused of blatantly plagiarizing the original artwork of the indie illustrator Tuesday Bassen.
Bassen, a Los Angeles-based artist who has worked with Nike, Playboy, Adidas, and the New Yorker, says she is currently pressing charges against the retail giant for creating literal copies of some of the pin and patch designs on her website.
"I first noticed the copies in early 2016, when hundreds of fans reached out to me privately to ask if I was working with them or if they were plagiarizing my work," Bassen told Racked.
Companies like @zara make it a business plan to steal designs from indie artists & condescend when you want payment. pic.twitter.com/YKG3RxShCD— Tuesday Bassen (@tuesdaybassen) July 19, 2016
She said that she had been virtually silent on the issue until yesterday, when she received a letter from Zara’s lawyers that claims her work is "too simple" to defend and that, due to her indie status (90K+ followers on Instagram compared to Zara’s 90 million customers worldwide), her claims have been rejected.
But while Bassen’s work is technically considered "indie," she is well-known in the art community as an award-winning illustrator and a guest lecturer at colleges like the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Not to mention the fact that she says the majority of her work is protected by copyright — that should count for something, right?
Bassen has since posted about the ongoing case with a series of tweets and a single post on Instagram with both side-by-side comparisons and an excerpt from the letter Zara’s lawyers sent her that she said cost her $2,000 to receive:
Bassen said that Zara stands accused to stealing the work of a bunch of small brands, including Pity Party Corporation, Rosehound Apparel, and Mokuyobi Threads, not to mention other artists. The letter from the fast fashion company’s counsel even acknowledges past plagiarism claims brought against them, but says they are small in comparison to the number of Zara’s monthly visitors.
Fast fashion’s ongoing tussle with smaller designers and artists is no secret. In fact, the reason Zara has become such a power player along with fellow retail giants like H&M and Topshop is because it can bring popular designs seen on runways (or online) into stores in as little as two weeks.
Bassen says that her next steps include going forward with the lawsuit and continuing to copyright everything she creates, even though it will be costly. "I want to point out that most artists don't even get this far. The ‘luxury’ of spending $2K for a lawyer to write a letter is something most artists cannot afford," Bassen said on Twitter. "This is for me and this is for every single artist that can't do anything."
We’ve reached out to Zara for comment and will update with any response.