Social media facilitates the democratization of information. However, because of the affordances that social media marketing provides, brands have the opportunity to spread information constantly and freely but competitors also have easy and free access to that same information. These trends are carried through to the fashion industry and we have the democratization of fashion. As a result, the weight that social media carries in the fashion industry is tremendous because not only do consumers have the ability to see the looks but lower end stores, like Forever 21, H&M and Zara, also have the ability to create knockoffs before the high-end designers have the opportunity to produce their products at a comparable scale. Zara is particularly interesting because to many people the Spanish brand is known as a “high-street” fast-fashion brand and most of their items are overpriced for the quality that they deliver. Of course, when the items that are similar to high-end designers’ are compared, Zara’s prices are lower. However, it is customary that Zara also copies designers from small independent designers and the prices end up being higher.
Here are just a few images to show you below featuring Zara, which is the largest fast-fashion companies in the world. The comparisons are unreal, to say the least!!
Zara – $160
Yeezy Crepe-Sole Boots – $645
Zara – $60
Gucci – $595
Zara – $50
Mui Mui – $670
Zara – $70
Gucci – $630
Although the images that I have shown above are indeed alarming, Zara in my opinion, becomes more offensive since the Spanish brand has also proven to make a habit of copying indie designers and artists. Even though people have often said that imitation is another form of flattery, in this case it crosses the line and is affecting the livelihood of many small designers, who may not even have the opportunity or means to fight their cases against Zara.
Adam J. Kurtz, a designer from New York, spoke out on the issue after Tuesday Bassen, a Los Angels designer, accused Zara of stealing her designs. Below you can see a collage that he made showcasing many examples of Zara’s theft from many artists, including his own.
After hearing from many fans about the designs on Zara, Tuesday made the choice to contact Zara through a lawyer (which cost her $2,000 for a letter to be sent) in regards to her original designs, which they then replied saying that hers failed to be distinctive enough and that her name was not big enough for her to be taken seriously. Now, if you look at the images above, and below, you will see clear similarities!!
I've been pretty quiet about this, until now. Over the past year, @zara has been copying my artwork (thanks to all that have tipped me off–it's been a lot of you). I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I'm an indie artist and they're a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter. I plan to further press charges, but even to have a lawyer get this LETTER has cost me $2k so far. 〰 It sucks and it's super disheartening to have to spend basically all of my money, just to defend what is legally mine. ⚡️ EDIT: Some of you are asking how you can help. Repost and tag them, on Twitter, on Insta, on Facebook. I don't want to have to burden any of you with the financial strain that comes with lawsuits.
According to a statement made by Inditex, Zara’s parent company, on Buzzfeed…
“Inditex respects any third party’s creativity and takes all claims concerning third party intellectual property rights very seriously. On receiving these allegations, the relevant items were immediately suspended from sale and an investigation opened. In parallel, Inditex’s legal team also contacted Tuesday Bassen’s lawyers to clarify and resolve the situation. Inditex has more than 600 designers in house that create more than 50,000 designs a year, it has the highest respect towards each individual’s creativity and will investigate this specific case to its end.”
There are numerous issues that Zara has been accused of and I, in no way, am denying those accusations, but solely for this project I decided to highlight their choice to copy designers because I see a direct link to marketing and social media.
In addition to Zara, there are numerous fast-fashion and high-street brands that have a habit of copying the work of established and up and coming designers. Especially in the case of smaller designers, it is extremely unfortunate that fast-fashion brands fail to credit others’ designs and basically act as though the designs are their original. With 14.8 million followers on Instagram, if someone didn’t know that Zara was copying designs they would assume that it is Zara’s designs and assume, if they saw the actual original designs from the smaller artist, that they were copying from Zara. And as a result, I can only assume that this affects designer’s creativity because after having produced amazing items that take time, energy and money, a larger and more powerful brands can steal the designs solely because they know that they are larger and more powerful.
This concludes my mini blog series on social media and the fast fashion revolution! I hope that you were not only able to see the incredible affordances that social media provides for marketers and bloggers, but also some downfalls that have real life consequences for designers.
Thank you for reading!! :)