Forever 21 may be a multi-billion dollar company, but that apparently does not mean it has enough money to avoid copying from smaller indie brands. The fast fashion behemoth's latest target is New York-based jewelry label Sorelle NYC, an editor and street style favorite known for its elegant statement earrings.
Sorelle took to Instagram on Sunday to share a post comparing its Anja earring, which currently retails for $129, with Forever 21's Matchstick Drop earring, which sells for $6 online. Though the discrepancy in price point is dramatic, the design is strikingly similar, with a single pearl sandwiched between dangling hoops and a vertical bar. And while Francesca Grosso, the designer behind the Brooklyn-based indie jewelry label, posted to Instagram with a caption that was either remarkably gracious or too-frustrated-to-say-more — "Happy to inspire @forever21" accompanied by a thumbs-up emoji — the desire to make the copycat move known to her followers was clear.
Even if the aesthetic similarities between the two earrings weren't enough to raise eyebrows (which they definitely are), the fact that the Anja is one of Sorelle's most popular designs would certainly be. It's a piece well-loved by industry names like Anna Dello Russo that's received write-ups and editorial placement in publications like Harper's Bazaar, Teen Vogue, Fader, V Magazine and more.
So what recourse does a small designer like Grosso have in the light of such shameless copying? Bigger brands with the resources to sue can try to win damages for copyright infringement, as demonstrated by Puma's lawsuit against Forever 21 that was filed late last week concerning the fast fashion brand's Fenty Puma by Rihanna knockoffs. But smaller labels like Sorelle may not have the money to fight things out in court, leaving them to hope that their customers won't be tempted away from the original by a cheap copy.
If the comments on Sorelle's post are any indication, that's just the attitude the brand's followers have. "Quality vs Quantity any day," wrote one fan. No doubt that Sorelle's got Forever 21 beat in that department.