Your First Love Should Be Yourself Shirt Ripped Off by Missy Empire?
Posted on 23 February 2017
This story starts a month ago (21st of January 2017), when it was brought to my attention that the fashion brand Missy Empire had posted one of my designs without my permission to their instagram. After I politely asked them repeatedly to credit, they eventually did so. By this point the design had already been liked by thousands and probably seen by much more, none of these people knew I was the rightful creator. Instagram is a marketing strategy, they had used my copyrighted images to promote their account and thus their website, probably generating them more sales. The post got a significant amount more attention and likes than their usual posts.
As if this wasn't enough, a month later (22nd of February), my followers brought to my attention that they had posted a t-shirt that was very similar to my "Your first love should be yourself" shirt and were now selling it.
I immediately emailed them asking them to cease selling the product that violates my intellectual property and filled an instagram copyright report. Instagram got back to me within hours and told me the image had been removed before they had a chance to take it further. Missy Empire had removed the post on instagram but to my dismay they were still selling it on their website, in fact it was the focus of their marketing campaign on their homepage.
It had even been styled in a similar manner to which I had styled my "Your first love should be yourself" shirt, being modeled laid back on a bed. Mine:
As you can imagine, its hard to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is "unintentional" (their words), since they clearly know who I am by posting my work only a month prior. At this point in time they are refusing any wrongdoing and still continue to sell the product.
What gets me the audacity of a company to bring my attention to them, by posting my copyrighted images uncredited to instagram, then turn around and sell a product that is very similar to mine, like my followers or I wouldn't notice.
If they had been called out for posting my work uncredited, what makes them think they wouldn't get called out for this? When you search "your first love should be yourself shirt" my website is the top result and its been featured in magazines such as NME. It is a well known design of mine.
These companies preach empowerment for women but their actions don't back that up. If they really cared about women, they wouldn't rip off a woman artist, affecting her in a negative way emotionally, mentally and financially. The message of my shirt comes from a genuine place of wanting young women to avoid the same mistakes I did growing up in relationships, to put themselves first and not allow people to take them off the path of self love.
I hope my experiences of being repeatedly ripped off don't put off young creatives. I feel like the culture of companies doing this and getting away with it is changing. With social media, we know have a platform to stand up for ourselves. People deserve to know what kind of company they are giving their hard earned money to. When people call out companies I refuse to shop their anymore, like Zara when they ripped off the illustrator Tuesday Bassen, or Topshop when they ripped off Handecote. As a consumer you can make a difference.