For a long time, Black Fashion Designers have been exposing big fashion houses for stealing their original work. Brands like Forever21, Fashion Nova etc have a notorious reputation for stealing designs from other creatives and designers.
The latest brand under fire is UK-based fast-fashion online retailer Boohoo. What’s Boohoo? Boohoo was a pioneer of the ultra-fast-fashion retail phenomenon, owned by billionaire Mahmud Kamani. The fashion retailer is presently worth more than big names like Marks & Spencer and Asos combined.
The design theft in question is KAI Collective’s SS20 Gaia prints. The mesh fabric print was to designed differentiate Kai and build a stronger brand identity according to owner and creative director, Fisayo Longe. She further reveals her collaboration with Grapes Pattern Bank that brought about today what’s known as Gaia prints.
In an instagram post Fisayo explains: “KAI has sent Boohoo a Cease & Desist Letter requiring that they stop selling products that unlawfully infringe our copyright. We have also demanded £30,000 in damages plus legal costs. They have until 22nd February to comply.”
She further goes on to say: “For KAI, Gaia is not just colours, lines and patterns. It is soul and identity. We design to for women to feel their most confident.
Before we launched the orange colorway in June 2020, I was uncertain about how it would be received. I had never seen a print like it. Obviously, I had no reason to worry and Gaia is now being heavily imitated. Boohoo has gone as far as to copy our print almost identically. That is unacceptable. Seeing how much Gaia was being imitated, I obtained design registration in the UK and EU, with US copyright pending. They will not profit illegally off, of our intellectual property and most certainly not with a print that we have legally protected.
Business practices that line the pockets of a billionaire businessman and his sons off, of the ideas, struggles, sacrifice and pure hard work of young black female designers are racist and sexist. You are exploiting and economically disempowering us.
We have already spent thousands in legal costs at this stage and it is easy to see why small brands don’t bother defending themselves – it’s unaffordable! However, after years of graft and sweat, we refuse to be stolen from in this way, and we take reputational damage very seriously.
I advise Boohoo to do the right thing and stop selling their copies of our print, and pay us.
I will keep you updated; please help spread this far and wide.”
The fast rising brand KAI Collective has been worn by US rapper Sawtie, Temi Otedola, Ebonee Davis to Youtubers like Jackie Aina, Patricia Bright, and The Oddity as well as many more beautiful women across the world. KAI Collective was also included on the Beyoncé directory of Black-owned businesses last year.