Forever 21: Designer Knockoffs?

I've always had a love/ hate relationship with Forever 21. I do love to shop there since it is so inexpensive and they have a huge (albeit messy) selection. Being a typical money-challenged college student, I don't have a lot to splurge on all the designer goodies I want. Forever 21 has helped me look fashionable at an affordable price. However, it's hard to ignore the very apparent knockoffs that Forever 21 has produced in recent years. Earlier in 2009, F21 was sued by Trovato for ripping off their designs. It wasn't the first lawsuit brought against the company- Anna Sui, Diane Von Furstenberg, and others have all brought up cases against the savvy-chic retailer. For instance, there has recently been some controversy over a sweatshirt design that looks very similar to that of British graffiti artist Banksy [image courtesy of CocoPerez.com]...
F21 has had far more similar knockoffs in the past, but this leads me to wonder how often they 'borrow' from other designers. On one hand, I love Forever 21 because it has provided millions of girls and young women fun fashion that doesn't break the bank. But on the other hand, is it really fair to the designers that they are knocking-off? On a smaller scale, I would hate for my designs, ideas, and hard work to be copied for someone else's gain. The legal line for patents and copyright is very blurry in the fashion industry, which makes it that much harder for designers to protect their work. So what do you think, is it fair for Forever 21 to take ideas right off the runway?

Here are more examples....

Anna Sui VS. F21
F21 VS. Marc Jacobs
Diane Von Furstenberg VS. F21


  1. i'll say is fair!

    just because ppl like me can afford those pretty things now=]

  2. it's probably not fair. but designers make so much money from their clients that the prices they charge are not fair to us either.

    i'm happy that i can buy f21 knockoff designs, but we pay for the low quality. so it's not exactly the same...? and if f21 isn't doing it, another company will probably follow.

    tough topic haha

  3. Wow, that last Diane Von Furstenberg looks like an EXACT replica. Scary.

    And I feel the exact same about F21. It's relatively cheap and fashionable, but while everyone was bashing the H&M store on NY and swearing to boycott its items, F21 probably does way worse stuff everyday. Sadly, I'll probably still shop there, unless I move to Asia someday.

  4. I've noticed it many a time when I walk into that store.
    And to be honest, I'm sick of it. I haven't shopped there in years and I really don't intend to. Maybe the cost is cheap, but so are the materials. I'd rather have quality items then unoriginal ones that fall apart within weeks.
    Great post, REALLY informative.

  5. As an artist, I do understand how terrible it must feel to have your designs ripped off by another company.

    However, as person who lives with an extremely tight budget, I can also appreciate what they are trying to offer: access to fashionable, trendy clothes to the masses.

    Basically they operate off of two very strong truths about general society: 1. personal appearance plays a huge role in the way we judge people and ourselves and 2. the general public is eons away from being able to afford designer goods.

    Depending on your upbringing, environmental factors (such as culture, etc) and personal perspective, clothing can play a HUGE role in determining one's self-esteem and confidence level -- a very sad fact, but a fact nonetheless. Nobody wants to look like they shop at Kmart. And even "better" stores like Target tend to offer very generic clothing options.

    While F21's intentions are certainly not wholly altruistic, they are actually helping a lot of people get over the unfortunate fact that they will _never_ own the branded clothing and accessories that they are constantly exposed to on the television, in magazines, on celebrities, etc. Society places a huge emphasis on being seen owning and wearing branded clothing, but only a select few are able to actually do so. Society operates, therefore, with a massive level of stratification -- which is of course, established by many, many elements, however the fashion industry, with its rapid cycles and unreachable prices, is undeniably one of these elements.

    It may be better to buy a few "quality" items, but for young people like me, who are involved in industries that demands creativity and a "cutting-edge" look on an almost daily basis, but who are still struggling for a solid financial foothold, taking the time to save up for _one_ $500 branded handbag is simply not efficient, time-wise or financially. That $500 could buy me a slew of fashionable clothes and accessories from F21 that, yes, may be of poorer quality than the high-end designs they imitate, but will most certainly hold up to the day to day activities of work and life. And by the time they do show some wear, several trend cycles will have come and gone.

    just my two cents.

  6. thanks for the responses everyone, it was really interesting to see what you all think.

    I tried to keep the tone of my post indifferent since I didn't really want to influence your opinions and comments but here's what I think. Personally, I understand the role that F21 plays in the retail industry. I can't really think of another store that provides affordable, fashionable clothes at the large scale that they do. However, in the end, it's about ethics. Is it helpful to the general public for F21 to sell inexpensive items? Of course. But is it ethical? I really don't think so. I don't think we can justify F21's poor business practices just because we like to shop there and we like their cheap fashion. There are plenty of retailers (albeit smaller) that are affordable and fashionable without having to rip off other people. Ultimately, what they are doing it just not right.