Indie Artists VS Fast Fashion

9:00 AM

You may not be as bombarded with updates in regards to Tuesday Bassen vs. Zara like I have but it's not only an important case for artists/designers in regards to fashion but for us as consumers. This ongoing battle was initially brought to my attention by Adam J. Kurtz, an acquaintance of mine, while browsing Facebook/Twitter. I'm a fan of Tuesday's art and own a few of her pieces so to see blatant copies of her work cropping up on Zara without compensation or credit was rather upsetting. Her case isn't usual or the first. Big, fast fashion companies have been lifting ideas from other artists for a while now - including my acquaintance Adam. Urban Outfitters is probably the most notorious and the one that often comes to mind. However, what makes this case different is Zara's response to Tuesday:

In short, their response was very similar to Harry Wormwood's response to Matilda: "I'm smart, you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it" Regardless of an artist's brand recognition, how many buyers they have, or how many hits they get on their website that absolutely does not give big corporations a free pass to steal and use what they wish. 

This is what angered me, and what angered others. This mentality that they could squash you like a bug so you might as well suck it up and move on. Lawsuits against companies like Urban Outfitters, Zara, Forever 21, etc can be and are lengthy and expensive. Independent designers, like Tuesday, often buckle under the pressure of the financial burden that comes with perusing legal action.

Tuesday made an excellent decision to share this with her fans and supporters. What could have been an incident that was swept under the rug has instead snowballed into a rather massive PR disaster for Zara. British Vogue has covered it, The Fashion Law, Refinery 29 among others. Adam has created his own page with the ability to buy the original designs supporting the true artists along with updates including side by side comparisons of the original vs the knock off.

What does this mean to us as consumers? Zara, H&M, Forever 21 among other fast fashion brands don't exactly make it a secret that they lift from other designers. Olivier Rousteing of Balmain has openly come out and acknowledged that yes Zara makes copies of Balmain creations and is supportive of it. You don't have to look to hard to find a rather convincing dupe of Chanel's 2.55 bag on the web. And instantly after Fashion Week, fast fashion is at the helm to swipe ideas off the runway delivering them faster than the actual brands can - which is also why many designers have taken a 'see it now, buy it now' approach. The difference is, Chanel, Balmain, Dior, these brands can take a hit like that. Ultimately people shopping at Forever 21, H&M etc probably weren't going to be able to afford to buy a Chanel 2.55. It's more than likely not going to impact these multi billion dollar mega luxury brands significantly. However, for artists like Tuesday, Adam, Sara M. Lyons and others this is their livelihood. Their work, their source of income, their art.

As consumers we should support small businesses and original pieces as much as we can. There's nothing I love more than being able to support my friends' endeavors. Or simply to say I purchased something locally. Maybe that makes me a bit pretentious - I don't know. That's not to say that we should completely turn our backs on fast fashion. Fast fashion can be wonderful for getting a trendy item for cheap so that you don't feel guilty about tossing it later. Or for stocking up on your favorite basics for less than one Alexander Wang tee. But when it starts to encroach on indie artists it becomes problematic and it needs to be stressed that it will not be tolerated. To flippantly take something, make a profit of it, and then dismiss claims of copyright infringement based on social standing or power is irresponsible and ethically wrong. 

Top Photo by: Skyler Greene // Middle Photo: Tuesday Bassen // Bottom Photo: Adam J. Kurtz) 

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