Cara Delevingne accused of ripping off T-shirt design and selling it as her own

Dec 10, 2015 at 10:29 p.m. ET
Image: Photographer/WENN

Cara Delevingne is accused of stealing a T-shirt idea and selling it as her own for charity.

"The future is female" T-shirt has been a best-seller for Rachel Berks' LA-based design studio, Otherwild. It's been so popular that Cara Delevigne and her girlfriend, St. Vincent, bought T-shirts for themselves and wore them around town. Berks was awfully surprised to find Delevingne selling T-shirts of the exact same design for charity on Represent.

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Berks states: “Well, I think, first of all, Cara Delevingne actually owns the shirt from Otherwild, because Annie Clark, [also known as musician St. Vincent and Delevingne's girlfriend], actually purchased two from me directly. And she was photographed wearing it, and she made an exact replica. The type is exactly the same as mine. There’s no distinction whatsoever.”

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The slogan "The future is female," is originally from a T-shirt worn by folk singer Alix Dobkin in 1975. Berks received permission to use the slogan after seeing the original photograph. Delevingne hasn't contacted the original parties for permission nor to outsource from Otherwild. Delevigne hasn't yet stopped the sale of the T-shirts or redirected fans to Otherwild. Berks took to Instagram to address the controversy.


Berks writes: "I took down my post yesterday about #thefutureisfemale controversy, because the negative commentary was overwhelming me, but I wanted to share my thoughts and this image which shows #Otherwild's sweatshirt on the left, and @caradelevingne's identical version on the right. The slogan "The Future Is Female" originates from Jane Lurie's and Marizel Rios' Labyris Books (1972), and Otherwild used @lizacowan's image of Alix Dobkin in the shirt (1975) with permission, as originally seen on Kelly Rakowski's @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y. Otherwild's redesign and reissue of the FIF tees and buttons is protected under copyright law, which mandates that any reproduction of an existing known public work must be altered at least 20% from the original. If model/actress Cara Delevingne wanted to sell my line, she would need to wholesale them from Otherwild, and because we donate 25% of our line's proceeds to Planned Parenthood, Delevingne's ethical practice would benefit not only our woman-owned small business but would also serve as a significant donation to PP. Delevingne could also choose not to wholesale from Otherwild and create her own design of the slogan on clothing to sell. But Delevingne's choice to lift and manufacture Otherwild's design, claiming it as her own to sell with an undisclosed charitable offering, is indefensible. Her actions ironically counter the very message of the slogan "The Future Is Female", and it's confounding that she would do this to a small queer feminist-owned business after purchasing the product from us just a few weeks ago. Although under pressure, Delevingne has changed the line's attribution several times in the past 24 hrs., she has not yet offered to wholesale from us nor cease and desist blatantly copying and selling our designs."

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Raising money for charity is a great thing, especially when it sends an empowering message to women, but not when it involves plagiarizing a design from a female small business owner. It dilutes the message of the slogan. Maybe Delevingne could tweak the slogan to, "The future is for some females" or "The future is for females in T. Swift's squad."