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Zara accused of ripping off LA indie designer

Tuesday Bassen has come forward with claims that the Spanish retailer has stolen her work, with other artists following suit

An independent illustrator and artist based in LA has accused high street chain Zara of co-opting her designs.

Tuesday Bassen claimed that Zara has been reproducing her pins and iron-on patches. She wrote on Instagram:  “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 (case) 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.”

Having reached out to the Spanish brand, the artist, who has worked with Urban Outfitters and Adidas, received an email response rejecting her claims: “We reject your claims here for reasons similar to those stated above: the lack of distinctiveness of your client’s purported designs makes it very hard to see how a significant part of the population anywhere in the world would associate the signs with Tuesday Bassen.”

The email detailed that other artists had been in touch with similar complaints, but that its customers and following did not compare to the global brand.

“Please note that such (third party) notifications amount to a handful of complaints only...millions of users worldwide visit the respective websites monthly (Zara: 98,000.000 average monthly visits last year),” the email read.

Bassen told Dazed that she first noticed the alleged reproduction of her work earlier this year, when fans on social media reached out to her to ask if she was working with them, or if they were plagiarising her work. “Since then, Zara has copied four of my designs and their lawyers claim that my work is both ‘too simple’ to defend, and that I have no base because I am a small artist with 90k followers on Instagram, but they are a major corporation with 90 million customers and only ‘a handful of people’ would notice that the designs are mine,” Bassen explained. “I plan to pursue this further, even though they are trying to belittle and bully me.”

“It has an awful impact on the livelihood of an artist - this is how I support myself, and they are diluting my brand by literally stealing from me,” she added.

“Zara has also stolen the work of Pity Party Corporation, Rosehound Apparel, Mokuyobi Threads, AdamJK, and more. I hope that one outcome is that I can raise awareness for how often this happens and how few artists can actually afford to pursue it. I would also like to be compensated for my work.”

Other artists have since taken to social media in support of Bassen, and to relay that some of their work has been allegedly stolen by the retailer too. Artist Adam J Kurtz has set up a page for consumers to buy the original work of artists supposedly ripped off by the chain.

And it’s not just indie designers that the brand has faced off with: 2012 saw a landmark case between Zara and Louboutin, when Louboutin took the company to court for copying its trademark red soles. The huge fashion house however lost its case. Many high street brands including Zara have come under fire in recent years for runway rip-offs.

Over on The Fashion Law, it’s been reported that Bassen might be able to fight her case under copyright law, as detailed similarities between her work and the mass production at Zara would fall under the law. Bassen has explained that she plans to copyright all of her designs and press further charges.