Lately printed clothes have been all the rage in the fashion industry, haven't they? From quirky pattern-prints to illustrated pieces which is to be found all over the place. There are also printed clothes with classical paintings on them. Personally, I too love such items. Who can say no to items with beautiful scenes painted on or adorable patterns all over? Sadly, not all these items were acquired legally nor ethically - some of them are stolen from their rightful creators. Such a sad, sad truth. And - guess what? - you might actually own one or two of these items.
I myself am not a famous or even sought-after illustrator. But some of my favourite illustrators have had their items stolen and sold without their knowledge (some are even by pretty renowned brands/store!). For instance, Kelly Bastow has once had an issue where one of her illustrations was sold on t-shirts at Forever21 and she had no idea of this - nor did she get credited or paid for it. The last I heard the issue had yet to be resolved but the item was quickly removed from their store - though they did not apologise. Most recently, Lois van Baarle also got one of her illustrations re-coloured and illegally sold by Romwe. Yes, you've probably seen this store in some fashion blogs and may even own one or two of their products. This isn't, however, Romwe's first plagiarism act. You can see (at least from leggings alone) countless of works they've stolen - and more which aren't for sale anymore. The worst part is - especially in Lois's case - the works they stole are hugely copyrighted (it's Disney! Who doesn't know it?).
|Kelly's case with F21|
|Lois's original illustration|
My message to you: PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THESE ACTS! There are various incredibly beautiful prints and illustrations on clothing items for sale in stores you can support, such as Nadinoo or Threadless. They have a selection of unique patterns and inspiring illustrations you can purchase for a reasonable price. In fact, Threadless allows you to vote for your favourite artworks to make it to the store to be sold. You actually get to support the illustrations as well as the artists. Nadinoo has their items handmade and even supported illustrators, such as Geneviève Godbout. Some artists prefer to sell their items independently - be it on clothing items or on other products. You can find them on society6 and Etsy.
What about big brands? Well, to be honest, I think it's hard to trust a brand which has stolen other people's works. If they did it once, chances are they don't really care where their designs come from, so long as it keep the money coming. Some do it unknowingly - or at least claim to do so - and some purposefully steal from others (such is the case when they do it over and over again or many simultaneously). It's best to trust the brands/store which only sell the items they design themselves or clearly credit the artists who came up with the designs. This obviously excludes brands/stores which sell classical paintings on their clothes - though it is no longer considered as stealing. So let us fight against plagiarism and support the artists in what they do!