WHAT CAN WE LEARN IN MIDST THIS FASHION FIASCO
What happened, who’s at fault, and how fast fashion brands can do better to support Black designers
In November, Megan Thee Stallion launched her body-inclusive and tall girl friendly capsule collection with Fashion Nova. The collaboration, influenced by her Texas roots, offers a stylish selection of denim, bodysuits, matching tops, and skirts. The collection sold out quickly upon its debut, raking in 1.2 million dollars in sales in the first 24 hours.
After the initial launch, however, different black indie designers accused Megan and Fashion Nova of copying their clothing designs used for the recent collaboration. Aazhia Rhy, owner of TLZ L’Femme, posted on Instagram a comparison of her dress and the dress included in the Megan X Fashion Nova launch.
Aazhia even includes a screenshot in her post of a conversation between her and someone she says is from Megan’s team requesting Aazhia to provide the dress for Megan to wear for an event. Ultimately, alleging that Megan and her team are aware of TLZL’Femme, the specific dress and copied it for the Fashion Nova collab. In her Instagram post, Aazhia says no one paid her to use her designs.
Rhy isn’t the only designer who felt slighted by Fashion Nova and Megan for stealing their designs. Sonya Bees, an Instagram boutique noticed similarities between their maxi skirt set.
With the fashion theft accusations gaining traction, Megan denied those claims on the radio show, The Morning Hustle. While shooting down the accusations, Megan seemed to be addressing Rhy in certain parts of the interview by stating, “A lot of times people say that they talked to somebody from my team. I don’t know what year that was. What are you talking about? And a lot of times they won’t even bring me…you know, they don’t tell me who they talkin’ to. I’ll probably never hear you [sic]. I’ve never seen the dress before, but it’s been a dress that has been done a lot like over the years.“ Essentially, Megan pulled a Mariah Carey, “I don’t know her” move toward Rhy despite Rhy’s clothes being worn by Megan’s pals Cardi B, The City Girls, and Chloe X Halle, to name a few. Megan also questioned if the designer actually reached out to her team. On top of that, she said the dress has been done before over the years, so there is no basis for her theft accusations.
This is not the first time designers accused Fashion Nova of taking designs, they have been called out numerous times over the years on social media by designers and non-designers alike over claims of copying others’ clothes. Here are just a few of the comparisons:
The list goes on and for some, the Megan Thee Stallion X Fashion Nova has caused a furthered disdain toward the fast-fashion giant.
Who’s to blame?
Some people feel Megan isn’t at fault, but rather Fashion Nova is since she was likely just the face of the line, while Fashion Nova crafted the pieces. This could be the case, but in an interview with Vogue before the scandal, Megan mentions a few times her personal involvement in the collection, saying, “ [Fashion Nova] really allowed me to be creative. I love having [sic] freedom to express myself, so not only was I so excited to be creating a collection for women like me, I was also excited to be able to watch my vision unfold.” When asked to pick only one outfit to wear from the line, she says it’s impossible to decide because “I love so many pieces. I worked so hard on all of it.”
Others blame it on the indie designers who fault them for not patenting their clothes in order to protect their designs and prevent other companies from stealing and profiting off of their work. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. It is nearly impossible to patent an entire article of clothing. Who’s at fault for all this can fall on fast fashion companies, indie designers, and even the U.S. Copyright rules, depending on how you look at it. At this point, instead of pointing fingers, maybe it will be more productive to offer suggestions on how to improve relations between these groups instead of adding more fuel to the fire.
First, fast-fashion brands should collaborate with Black indie designers. This would be an amazing opportunity for these large companies to support smaller designers by giving them access to a bigger platform of people who can see their work. By having a collab, people can support both the fast-fashion brand and indie designer for the pieces created. These indie designers would be compensated for their work and get the increased exposure they deserve for their talent. If these fast fashion brands can pay for so many influencers and celebrities to endorse their clothes, why can’t they cut a check for designers, too?
Secondly, if an indie designer, with merit, accuses a fast-fashion company of ripping off their design, the piece(s) in question should be immediately removed from the site and the company should compensate them with the profits the garment earned.
These are just a few ways large fast-fashion companies can do better and support indie designers.