As much as we all may love the fast fashion retailer Zara, the brand is finding itself in the hot seat lately. From a recent claim from Los Angeles based artist, Tuesday Bassen that the Spanish retailer used four pieces of her original artwork without permission or compensation to other designers in which have claimed similar accusations. Bassen became aware of the similar pieces early this year when many of her fans contacted her asking whether she was collaborating with Zara or if the company had plagiarized her work.
The 27-year-old illustrator then filed an official complaint with the company. When she contacted the company through her lawyer, the brand responded with the following: “The lack of distinctiveness of your client’s purported designs makes it very hard to see how a significant part of the population anywhere would associate the signs with Tuesday Bassen. This is our firm view, and being fully aware of the 3rd party notifications that you have brought to our attention. In this last regard, please note that such notifications amount to a handful of complaints only; when it is borne in mind that millions of users worldwide visit the respective websites monthly (Zara: 98,000.000 average monthly visits last year, Bershka: 15.000.000 average monthly visits last year), the figures clearly put those few notifications into sharp perspective.”
Adam Kurtz is another designer who has also alleged his work that has been copied, comparing Zara’s products to those of him along with other indie artists.
the scale of this apparent copyright infringement is inexcusable. over 20 artists, more than 42 pieces of art, reproduced by @zara and its international subsidiary stores, without payment or permission. I didn't know I was "uncovering" a huge case, I thought I was just backing up my friend @tuesdaybassen with some surrounding evidence? until I found a bunch of my own work too. they stole from some of the most popular pin and patch artists on instagram and you guys helped us spot more and more examples, unraveling the whole thing. . some personal thoughts on the matter: . when this happens for the first time it might make you, an independent artist, question why you share what you create. why you work so hard to communicate who you are and "put it out there." it's hard enough to be honest and make something real that captures a feeling and resonates with others. then, when it's stolen it does feel like a part of you has been taken, had its soul sucked out, and then slapped on a handbag or t-shirt. . you may want the art theft to just "go away" and so you ignore it. I totally understand that feeling, and that's how I felt at first. but at a certain point, when so many talented people whose work you love are being equally disrespected, it is time to say something. that's why we're doing what we are doing now, and we want you to know that people do care. . follow @shoparttheft and help support the artists involved by purchasing their originals. go to shoparttheft.com for links to everyone's shop. it's a small silver lining to see some extra orders coming in and can remind the artists that some people in the world are good even as bad things happen. you already follow my work so go discover someone whose work you don't know. or just follow them all! zara really did pick some good ones lol. . help us build an ongoing guide to intellectual property theft against independent artists by uploading your own cases to shoparttheft.tumblr.com. . #shoparttheft #supporttuesdaybassen
Now, in addition to the above, the brand was just slapped with a $5 million lawsuit for allegedly cheating American shoppers out of billions of dollars. Accused of “bait and switch and cover-up pricing”, Attorney Mark Garagos, who represents the plaintiffs said many products are priced in euros and when converted at the register, consumers are overcharged.
Hmmm, this begs an answer; should we as shoppers look a little more carefully at the price tags when shopping? Or should we just assume that the retailers we shop with have our best interest at hand? Being a Zara shopper myself, I found myself in the same position, but then got smart and recognized the difference of the dollar signs. This should be a reminder to us all: Check your tags before you buy.
Zara USA denied the allegations and issued a statement, which read in part: “We pride ourselves in our fundamental commitment to transparency and honest, ethical conduct with our valued customers. We look forward to presenting our full defense in due course through the legal process.”