Is Zara Stealing Art?

What the popular fashion retailer won’t tell you.

Art Theft Originals [image source: shoparttheft.com], crowd ink, crowdink, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au
Art Theft Originals [image source: shoparttheft.com]

Are the chic Zara designs you’re wearing actually stolen? Or is it merely “inspired art?” Indie artist Tuesday Bassen would argue the former.

Zara and Art Theft [image source: shoparttheft.com], crowd ink, crowdink, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au
Zara and Art Theft [image source: shoparttheft.com]
Zara has recently been under fire for multiple accounts of stolen art from independent artists such as Tuesday Bassen. When asked by Bassen to stop stealing her art, they replied that the lack of distinctiveness of her purported designs make it hard to see how a significant part of the world’s population would associate the art with her. They then proceeded to steal her art five more times.

And she’s not alone. Several artists’ designs have been closely or exactly reproduced into pins, embroidered decals, and printed apparel and there’s nothing wrong with that – except for the fact that none of these artists had signed licensing agreements with Zara, which is the standard way for artists to get commission for their original work being used.

Fortunately, Zara’s rip off designs aren’t going unnoticed by the public. Several major magazines and news companies such as VOGUE, Buzzfeed, Nylon Magazine, BBC, and i-D have all taken note of Zara’s blatant copying and crucial coverage is slowly but surely making it into the international sphere through EL PAÍS España and Excite Japan because Zara is an international company and their theft needs to be recognized not just on a national level but on a international one too.

It is important to note, however, that Zara is not the only fashion brand to have stolen designs from independent artists. Brands like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 have also been accused of art theft.

Adam J. Kurtz, fellow artist and friend of Bassen, has pointed out though that Urban Outfitters has since improved and now legally and fairly carries his work, as well as Bassen’s and other independent artists’. “Mistakes do happen and big companies are made up of individual people,” Kurtz said. “But if it happens a dozen times in one season, that’s intentional…and it tells us that our work means nothing.”

So you might be wondering how or even if you can help spread the news. The answer is yes! Shop Zara’s art theft on shoparttheft.com so the respective artists can get credit and profit for their designs. You can also save and share the graphic at the beginning of the article to get the word out. Don’t forget to tag Zara in it so someone somewhere working for Zara will have to go through the trouble of untagging the company from the photo.

And most importantly, boycott Zara so that they will have to do something about their theft.