Accusations Zara ‘copied’ the designs of more than 20 independent designers have sparked an online backlash with shoppers threatening to #BoycottZara.
The accusations first came to light on 20 July, when designer Tuesday Bassen shared an Instagram post with a statement she claimed her lawyer received from Zara in response to a copyright claim.
Another artist Adam J. Kurtz, decided to catalogue examples of independent designers (including himself) who had spotted ‘copies’ of their designs in Zara.
All-in-all he cited 42 examples on his website Shop Art Theft.
Kurtz told The Huffington Post UK: “We’d just like an admission of wrongdoing from Zara, even if it needs to be blamed on ‘foreign suppliers’ or however they’ll spin it.
“42 apparent cases in one year is not a mistake. Treat us, the artists and also any human person with the gift of eyesight, with a little respect.
“Of course we also deserve rightful compensation for our work. It would have certainly been cheaper to commission or license artwork directly from one or two of the artists in question (clearly they love Tuesday Bassen, Big Bud Press and Coucou Suzette in particular).
“What could have been a cool brand campaign about supporting independent artists is instead a case of alleged copyright infringement to their history as a company.”
The only UK artist currently implicated is Maria Ines Gul, an illustrator from London.
A spokesperson for Inditex – the company that owns Zara – told HuffPost UK: “Inditex has the utmost respect for the individual creativity of all artists and designers and takes all claims concerning third party intellectual property rights very seriously.
“Inditex was recently contacted by the lawyers of artist Tuesday Bassen who noted the use of illustrations in some badges sourced externally and on clothes in its Group stores.
“The company immediately opened an investigation into the matter and suspended the relevant items from sale. Inditex’s legal team is also in contact with Tuesday Bassen’s lawyers to clarify and resolve the situation as swiftly as possible.
“We are also currently investigating other allegations of illustrations used on badges provided by external suppliers on a case by case basis.”
Following Bassen’s Instagram post Instagram and Twitter users started to share messages with the hashtag #boycottzara.
However, Kurtz said he doesn’t support a boycott of the brand.
“I can’t speak for any of the artists but myself, I think it’s a little bit silly,” he said.
“While this is a clear and offensive case of intellectual property theft against dozens of independent artists, I think some perspective helps too.
“We should all be thinking about our purchasing choices every day and what we’re saying with our money. Where do you think a $5 t-shirt comes from
“Doesn’t mean I don’t like a good bargain, just means that our specific allegations of being unpaid for our work are hardly the only thing to consider when out shopping.”
Kurtz said his website Shop Art Theft is not only “an art comparison guide to hold Zara accountable”, but also a shopping guide, which shows where to purchase the original products — pins, patches and apparel — from the original artists.
“Personalising your denim is definitely a cool look for Autumn and I can promise that the original artists’ quality is far better than the knock-offs,” he added.