Indie artists and designers are continuing to call out big-box retailers for copying their work, and the latest to social media shame a blatant knockoff is Emily Oberg of Sporty & Rich. Oberg, who is an editorial producer at Complex by day, started the brand nearly two years ago and offers limited-edition T-shirts, totes and hoodies, as well as a print project called Sporty & Rich Magazine.
On Monday morning, Oberg posted a photo on Instagram — it was brought to her attention by one of her followers — which showcases a hoodie on sale at Forever 21 that's eerily identical to the original design she had exclusively produced for herself (seen in the photo above). Forever 21's version is also a white hoodie embroidered with the phrase "Smart & Pretty" in a similar type and retails for $15.90. This is somewhat of a repeat offense, as back in June, the retailer came under fire for offering a T-shirt that highly resembled Kanye West's "Pablo" merch. We reached out to Forever 21 for comment but did not receive a response by press time.
This isn't the first time that Oberg's hoodie has been copied. In January, she took to Twitter to call out the brand Fresh Tops for its own knockoff. Oberg recalls representatives from the brand reaching out to send her product: "I never responded," she says. "Then they made my exact same hoodie and even used a picture of me wearing it to sell their fake version. I called them out but they never said anything about it."
The item is still available on FreshTops.com, along with a slew of other knockoffs, which appear to be the e-commerce site's bread and butter. Some examples include Yeezus merch, a hat embroidered with "I came to break hearts" (originally by Parisian brand NASA Seasons) and a hoodie with no product description except for a screenshot from Gigi Hadid's Instagram. (A bit suspect, no?)
As for Oberg and her Sporty & Rich brand, she has no plans to take any legal action against Forever 21 or the additional shops that have counterfeited her work, which seems to be the general response from indie designers dealing with knockoffs. "My true followers would never buy the fake version and they'll always be the first ones to show me who is copying and call them out for me," says Oberg. "If [Sporty & Rich] stopped selling out and I started to see the fake designs everywhere, then maybe I'd be worried, but my business is doing just fine."