In April of 2007, designer Anna Sui sued Forever 21. According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Southern New York:
“It was brought to the attention of Sui that Defendants [Forever 21] were selling and offering for sale in their stores numerous women’s clothing items bearing a striking similarity to the Sui Products features at the most recent New York Fashion Week shows. Indeed, much of the collection displayed by Sui at the shows had itself not yet been finally manufactured and Sui’s own distribution of some of its newest Sui products not yet released.”
Sui’s designs are on the right, and Forever 21’s are on the left. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not you think Forever 21 copied Sui.
In addition to filing the lawsuit, Sui designed a shirt in the style of the “wild wild west” wanted photos with a quote from Exodus, referencing Forever 21’s usage of “John 3:16″ on every one of their yellow shopping bags.
In order to truly appreciate the fast-production business model that Forever 21 follows, it is necessary to see some more of the designs that Forever 21 “took inspiration from.”
There are countless more cases I could cite and examples I could show, but I don’t want to stray too far from the main topic at hand. As I stated in my prior post, Forever 21’s business model revolves around putting their own spin on designs they spot on the runway and getting those designs into stores as soon as possible, often before the originals are out. As long as Forever 21 continues to use this copyright-infringing method, factories will be pressured to maximize output at a fast rate and sweatshop conditions will continue to arise.
After a company has been cited for sweatshop use, they take every precaution possible to not be indicted again, even if their practices haven’t changed. Unfortunately, Forever 21 has become very resistant to releasing the sites of their factories which makes it difficult to investigate charges of unfair labor practices. However, Forever 21 continues to use the fast-production business model, so it is safe to assume that the garment workers are still feeling immense pressure to produce. In my opinion, once a sweatshop, always a sweatshop.