There's yet another Forever 21 ripoff (yes, really). The fast fashion retailer is being accused of knocking off another designer, yet again. This time, the copycat incident involves two pairs of earrings made by fashion-girl favorite Sorelle. The New York-based jewelry brand posted side-by-side images of the original and the imposter versions of their Anja and Helena earrings on its Instagram account, and the similarities are painfully obvious. Of course, this isn't the first time Forever 21 is the subject of a designer knockoff scandal, but it seems like it's happening more frequently with the brand than with its competitors — even Zara.
When looking at the earrings in question, it's nearly impossible to spot the differences. Apart from materials and price — Sorelle's versions will cost you over $100, while Forever 21's can be bought for as little as $6 — the designs are nearly identical. Commenters are showing their support for Sorelle, calling for a lawsuit, and even accusing the retailer of hiring interns to scan Instagram for inspiration. Sorelle's designer Francesca Grosso captioned her photos with a curt "Happy to inspire @forever21" and "Happy to inspire, part 2." We've reached out to Forever 21 and Sorelle for comment, and we'll update this story if and when we hear back from the former.
"Although it may seem frustrating, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. As a young designer, continuously trying to break grounds not only through brand imagery but through innovative design is challenging on its own," Grosso told Refinery29. "I've always said it, but it remains true: Large retailers look to small designers for inspiration, and to have my collection be replicated and sold for $6 at Forever 21 doesn't feel good. It's crucial for small designers to speak up even though we may not stand a chance against these corporations; [it's] simply a moment to be heard is a step in the right direction."
As Grosso explains, to be inspired is one thing, but to so blatantly copy the designs of a brand that's much smaller in scale than a major retailer raking in as much as $4 billion annually is another, might more problematic matter. It's unfair, and to sell the original designs of someone else at such a low price is, well, insulting. The rate at which Forever 21 is accused of copying the designs of (pricier) indie brands is alarming. But even luxury brands, many of which are household name status, aren't safe: Just take Céline, Alexander Wang, Mansur Gavriel, and Saint Laurent. The frequency at which designs of both indie brands and household names make it from the runway or boutique selling floor to the racks of a massive chain retailer: it has to change, and, hopefully, soon.