Forever 21 can't keep itself out of hot water. Ripping off other artists is sadly their jam, whether it's indie jewellery or clothing designers. This time, they've piqued the ire of Frank Ocean. According to Pitchfork, Frank took to his Tumblr to post a screenshot of the fast-fashion retailer allegedly copying his font used on the cover of his latest record. He cropped out the name of the store in his photo, but an intrepid Twitter user confirmed that it is indeed Forever 21. It is also a font Frank Ocean used when he hosted a series of pop-up shops in 2016 where fans could purchase Blonde and the accompanying visual zine, Boys Don't Cry.
Frank initially captioned the photo "uhh." with the embarrassed face emoji, but has since edited the post to just contain the emoji.
The font was possibly made specifically for Frank Ocean, or at least that's the only way he could claim ownership over it. According to some Redditors, it appears to be a customised version of Futura Bold Italic, with a slight rounding of ascenders — that's typeface-speak for the parts of Latin letters that extend over the rest of the letter. This makes a lot of creative sense, considering there's a song called "Futura Free" on Blonde. While there's no graphic designer listed in the liner notes of Blonde, the creative directors are listed as Thomas Mastorakos and Frank Ocean himself in collaboration with London-based graphic designers the Zak Group.
Surprising, typefaces are not considered intellectual property. This means that even if Forever 21 did steal the Blonde typeface, unfortunately, Frank Ocean may not have legal standing in court. However, just because the legality is hard to prove, that doesn't make Forever 21's creative choice any less questionable.
We reached out to Frank Ocean's management and Forever 21, though neither responded to a request for more information as of press time.