Another day, another fast-fashion retailer has been accused of ripping off yet another indie designer. This time, however, it’s a T-shirt you’ve likely seen all over Instagram — one you could even say started a movement. We’re talking about Wildfang's Wild Feminist T-shirt, the best-selling top that's been seen on the likes of St. Vincent, Sophia Bush, Kate Mara, and Ellen Page.
On Friday morning, Wildfang CEO and designer Emma Mcilroy took to Instagram to share that Forever 21 created its own version of her 'Wild Feminist' T-shirt. She uploaded a photo from the retailer’s website with the caption, Hey �� @forever21 ? you ?SUCK?please?stop?ripping?us?off? ," adding the hashtag: "#trademarkinfringement." Obviously, this isn’t the first time the retailer has been called out for allegedly using another brand’s designs for profit: In the past year alone, it's feuded with athletic company Alala, jewelry line Sorelle, and even Frank Ocean. Most recently, Forever 21 has been involved in a Real Housewives-esque saga over stripes with Gucci and Adidas. But this time, the situation is a bit different — because the Wildfang T-shirts directly benefit charity.
“When you rip off that T-shirt, you’re not just ripping off us, you’re also taking money out of the pocket of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, because 10% of every product that we make goes directly to them,” Mcilroy told Refinery29. “So, yeah, it’s just shitty.” She says she had no idea the shirt existed until one of her customer’s reached out asking if she had seen it. And as of Friday afternoon, Forever 21 was selling the tee on it’s website for $10.90.
“I was a little heartbroken when I heard about it, to be perfectly honest,” she added. “It’s the product that we’re most proud of and worked the hardest to create.” Mcilroy isn’t content with calling Forever 21 out on social media though, plans to take legal action. “Forever 21 can expect to hear from us,” she said.
Mcilroy pointed out that the toughest thing about this situation is how many people that are affected by the knockoff, noting that Wildfang is on track to raise $150,000 for charity as a small business. “I would love to know how much everyone in that supply chain was paid, because I can tell you can tell you that I pay well above minimum wage for anyone in my company," she said. "I don’t know how you make a garment like that — ethically and sustainably — for 10 bucks.”
We reached out to Forever 21 for comment, and will update this piece if/when we hear back.