Sometimes imitation is NOT the finest form of flattery. It's just stealing.
Zara, better known as overpriced basicland for hipster yuppies, has just added itself to the list of brands that rip off independent artists and mass produce their work. This time, the victim is Tuesday Bassen, an LA-based graphic designer who creates these incredible images. Here are some of her awesome pieces:
They're pretty adorable, right? Well, it seems like Zara thought so, too. In an interview with The Fashion Law that came out today, Bassen said, “My company was born out of my editorial illustration career when I decided to pursue products as a way to connect directly with illustration lovers instead of art directors. In late 2015 I began making LA produced clothing based on my original illustrations. Since then, I have been featured in several major publications, including an article in Teen Vogue about being one of the New Faces of Feminism.”
Here are the alleged copies that Zara has stolen next to the real thing:
The resemblance is pretty damn uncanny.
So obviously after being caught, Zara would admit its wrongdoings and apologize to Bassen, as well as compensate for any damage done, right? Of course not. Instead, the company basically told Bassen to fuck off, because it's so much bigger than her that no one would even know it was her designs in the first place.
That sounds like the same logic that serial killers use to murder innocent homeless people. No one will know you're gone, the CEO of Zara says, laughing maniacally. 'Mwuahahahaha.' *Blood drips down knife.*
I wish I were making this up:
Despite Zara's insulting claim that Bassen's designs are too simple to be copyrighted, the distinct features on her patches and pins are clearly enough to distinguish her work from another artist's, or, say, a Google image of the same thing. The coloring, patterns, and overall layout are an intelligent, creative design, which Zara obviously stole because it looks cool. Bassen may have enough evidence to prove Zara stole her stuff, but the financial backing is another story. Zara's owner, Amancio Ortega, is currently No. 2 on Forbes' Richest People In The World list. As of today, the 80-year-old is worth $73.6 billion.
"I recognize that not many artists have the 'luxury' of pursuing legal action against companies that wrong them and this is the first time in my life I've had that luxury," Bassen told BUST in an email. "I would like to say don't be discouraged by poaching companies, shine brighter and dig deeper into your creativity, and also to reach out to other artists; to not be afraid to share. The '00s have been a game changer for female artists, who now have a platform that belongs to everyone, instead of an elite few."
As eloquent and level-headed as she is, Bassen is hardly the first artist to ever be ripped off by a major corporation. Heck, she's not even the first victim of plagiarism to make headlines this week (looking at you, Michelle Obama). Urban Outfitters, a brand that often gets its kicks off offending the public, was under fire a few years ago for stealing the designs from Brooklyn-based artist Lillian Crowe and Chicago-based Stevie K. They too argued that there was nothing they could do, as the superstore claimed that their designs were unoriginal.
Bassen is a personal favorite of ours—she's illustrated for us a number of times, including this incredible piece for an article about fast fashion from the April/May 2014 issue:
Though we BUSTies love Bassen in particular, what's especially bothersome about all of this is that women-identifying artists seem to be especially targeted. Though it's doubtable that the rip-offs are gender-specific, the only ones who seem to make the changes (or have been covered by mainstream media) are distinctly female.
“I felt incredibly disheartened that Zara essentially said, ‘We're a giant corporation and you're an independent artist, so you have no base and can't do anything because comparatively, no one knows about you,'" Bassen says in The Fashion Law. "I hate that I've had to spend thousands of dollars to even get that response and that Zara knows I'm essentially powerless because I have less money to defend myself than they do.”
As for how she's moving forward, Bassen plans to sue Zara for copying her designs. It cost her $2,000 to send a cease and desist lawyer, which many artists can't even afford to do. Though her outlook is dim, her hope shines bright; she told The Fashion Law that this lawsuit isn't just about her:
"This is for me and this is for every single artist that can't do anything."
Top photo and product photos via Twitter and Instagram.
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