The confusing world of copyright.

Words by

Fashion Journal

There’s been some seriously blurred lines around what constitutes original fashion lately, and model Cara Delevingne is helping to stir the pot.

The model is under fire for duplicating a sweatshirt design in order to raise money for United Nations foundation, GirlUp. The sweatshirt, which reads ‘the future is female’, is a direct copy of one that Delevingne was snapped wearing not too long ago. 

After an onslaught of requests from Cara D fans asking where she got the t-shirt, she decided to produce her own. It’s currently available through Represent, an online platform used to sell custom branded merchandise with no upfront cost, making it perfect for fundraising and not-for-profits.

The issue here is that she never had permission to reproduce the design, with LA-based design studio and retail hybrid, Otherwild, claiming rights to the design. But they're not claiming rights over the slogan.

And this is where it gets a little blurry.

The original ‘the future is female’ slogan was emblazoned on a t-shirt. It was designed to raise funds for Labgirls Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City opened in 1972. 

In 1975, folk singer Alix Dobkin was snapped in the tee, by photographer Liza Cowan. The image then resurfaced more recently online, catching the eye of Otherwild designers. Otherwild then sought permission from Cowan to reproduce the slogan. But remember, Cowan only shot a photo of the tee. She wasn’t the original designer.

Adding more fuel to the fire, is the fact that 25 per cent of all proceeds from the Otherwild sweaters go to Planned Parenthood. Compare that to 100 per cent of proceeds from Delevingne's tee. 

Otherwild argues their work is protected by copyright law, as their redesign altered the original work by no more than 20 per cent. As Cara has seems to have copied the Otherwild design completely, the brand is not happy.

With the slogan being fairly prevalent in the public sphere however, many are stating that Otherwild may not have grounds for a claim.


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It’s ridiculous to think a tee can effect change.
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