There’s Now An Online Store Supporting Artists Whose Work Was Allegedly Stolen By Zara

When it comes to the battle of multibillion-dollar corporations vs. independent creators, the corporations almost always win. Or at least they used to. Thanks to social media, the creators are now finding new ways to fight back. Example: This online store supporting artists whose work was allegedly stolen by Zara.

The controversy started when independent artist/designer Tuesday Bassen pointed out some extremely close resemblances between her work and several items from Zara’s catalogue. When Bassen sent Zara a legal notice regarding the similarities between her work and their products, the company rejected her claims on the basis that it was “very hard to see how a significant part of the population anywhere in the world would associate the signs with Tuesday Bassen” given her designs’ “lack of distinctiveness,” and that Zara’s “millions of users worldwide” put the “few notifications” from Bassen and her supporters “in sharp perspective.”

In other words, the difference in numbers between Bassen’s and Zara’s customer bases was in itself proof against any wrongdoing on Zara’s part, which doesn’t make sense. It’s more of a “we have money and you don’t” defense than anything else, and as Bernie Madoff or the former officials of Enron can tell you, the presence of revenue is no proof of ethics.

However, that didn’t shut Bassen down. Her story went viral on social media, with other artists and designers coming forward with their own stories of (allegedly) being ripped off by Zara. One of the artists, Adam J. Kurtz, took things a step further by creating the online store Shop Art Theft. Shop Art Theft collects the work of over 20 indie creators including Kurtz and Bassen who claim that Zara stole their designs, compares the original products with Zara’s catalogue offerings, and maintains a list of media stories and coverage on the issue.

Although Zara has since taken down most of the products in question from its site, the issue of design theft is a real problem for independent art and fashion designers, who often don’t have access to the funds needed for the legal battles they want to fight. As Bassen notes in her Instagram post, just drafting and sending a legal notice to Zara cost $2000. That’s a minor sum for a multi-billion-dollar corporation, but a huge deal for a small business owner. Right now, the Shop Art Theft store is probably the best way for Bassen, Kurtz, and others to fight back against big companies: by hopefully making a dent in their profits. If Zara actually starts to lose money, maybe they’ll also start listening.