Skip Nav
Spring Fashion
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Codes
Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton's Finest Style Moments of the Year, and We're Not Just Talking Coats
Fashion Interview
How to Find the Right Jean Size For Your Body Type, According to Madewell's Designer

Fab Flash: Trovata Sues Forever 21 For Copying Its Designs

Forever 21 is known for pumping out the latest runway-inspired looks even quicker than the original designer, but one company is hoping to slow the fast fashion retailer to a halt. Trovota is suing Forever 21 for copying its designs. The company has been boiling in hot water 50 times over by numerous brands such as Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui, and Anthropologie for copyright violations in the past, but this is the first time Forever 21 will be faced in front of a jury who will determine whether it illegally clones other companies’ designs. According to experts, this outcome could result in a revised clarification of designers' intellectual property rights.

(Forever 21 shirts on the top row, Trovata shirts on the bottom row)

Current law only protects original prints or graphics on clothes because they are considered artwork. Trovata's case focuses on Forever 21 copying its unique button placements, decorative stitching, and fabric patterns. "It’s a difficult case, and they are putting up a substantial fight, but we believe that Forever 21 willfully and intentionally copied the designs of our client, in violation of a number of laws,” said Frank Colucci, a lawyer for Trovata.


Join The Conversation
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
I hope Forever21 loses. Is it asking too much for them to put some of their own thought into their products and create their own designs? I'm all for protecting artists, whether they be authors or fashion designers.
myystque myystque 8 years
It's very difficult now to claim a copyright on any clothing since so much has already been done. And since I can't afford to pay designer prices, I'm going to have to side with Forever 21--how else would I be able to wear cute, trendy clothing? What are the rest of us supposed to wear, potato sacks? Trovata should be happy they have clientele willing to pay for their clothing. It's really funny that they would sue over such generic-looking clothing. I agree with others that these pieces look like they could have come from the Gap or Old Navy. Really, Trovata? How is the button placement on ANY of those tops "unique"? In my opinion, LV would have much more of a case suing Bebe for the hideous replica of its gorgeous, crazy, heels (those red feathered ones featured in In Style and on Fabsugar not that long ago).
Cheyannei Cheyannei 8 years
Has anyone noticed that the Trovata shirts seem very basic and aren't even original to begin with. Yes, Forever21 had obviously made knockoff versions but really? I bet you could walked into GAP or Old Navy and get any exact shirt 2 years ago.
heatherlynnxox heatherlynnxox 8 years
none of those shirts are exactly alike. i mean obviously they are fashioned after the name brand ones. but thats the business. theres dozens beyond dozens that thrive off of "fashion look a-likes". there are supposed to look the same at first glance, but any true fashion addict could spot the difference. think of the fake prada & coach purses; look real similar but the logo is different. if forever21 loses. someone else is just going to do it. there will always be almost identical clothing for less. because there will always be those that can't afford 200 or more on one shirt.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
No I'm not kidding and I have a clue my opnion just diffrers from yours which is my right there is no need to get snotty about it. It's a fashion blog grow up!
Punk-Glam-Queen Punk-Glam-Queen 8 years
bastylefilegirl, "That someone who is knowingly getting ripped off by their employer who gets to put his/her name on their work and charge insane prices because of the label! There are labor issues on many brands ....even designer brands not just Forever 21 so lets leave that one at the door not many closet are free of these types of clothes. And in this case it's NOT art this is not an original design. The laws are clear they protect original graphics/designs which a striped polo with mismatched buttons is not. I mean if that's the case Abercrombie and Fitch should be suing Trovata for something they did in the 90's!" You're kidding right? You obviously have no clue. Designers who work under a label are compensated quite well, and they sign a contract that says any designs they produce become the property of the design house. Nobody is holding a gun to their heads, nor are they "getting ripped off" in any way, they *choose* to work in this capacity. I completely agree with labour issues on every level of manufacture. Insane prices are being charged for made in China garbage by so-called high-end designer brands, such as Just Cavalli and Thomas Wylde. But I do not agree as far as "art" is concerned. The technical definition of art is to use creative skill to make something. Art is subjective as well. For example anyone can create a painting like that of Jackson Pollack, so what makes his art? Does that mean that Jackson Pollack's work isn't art? If it can be reproduced cheaply its not art? Anything can be reproduced cheaply, that doesn't diminish the value of the original. The way you're looking at it, no item of clothing can ever be called art -- because every item of clothing has already been created at some point. You aren't thinking about the aesthetics and thought processes that went behind it, and that's where the art comes in.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
"the fact remains that the design was *someone's* art" That someone who is knowingly getting ripped off by their employer who gets to put his/her name on their work and charge insane prices because of the label! There are labor issues on many brands ....even designer brands not just Forever 21 so lets leave that one at the door not many closet are free of these types of clothes. And in this case it's NOT art this is not an original design. The laws are clear they protect original graphics/designs which a striped polo with mismatched buttons is not. I mean if that's the case Abercrombie and Fitch should be suing Trovata for something they did in the 90's!
socialitebabe socialitebabe 8 years
Omg, would all these designers drop it? It's forever 21! If they would lower their prices then maybe the ret of thepublic could afford their clothing! Half of these brands share factories with lower brand designers however they have the nerve to triple their prices. Go Forever 21!
Calimie Calimie 8 years
Team Trovata. I'm sure lawyers could argue whatever they want but that's not inspiration, that's an outright copy. Of course the target audience and the materials are different but the haven't even tried to change a few things. It's lazy.
magalaya magalaya 8 years
And just another note - since I am studying the cultural industries and policy issues i.e. copyright associated with it so I kind of have a lot to say about this - a really big problem with copyright is that historically, individuals had to physically register and SEEK copyright for their items (i.e. they would have to go copyright things if they felt it was worth copyrighting) but today, you don't have to. So essentially, everyone and everything can claim copyright and thus claim ownership and thus profits. For all we really know, Trovata could have been copying someone else's ideas and designs, they just didn't care enough to make a point about it. In a nutshell, for the most part, this system of copyright much of the Western world has initiated with good intentions in mind (that of promoting art and ensuring incentive for good art) has totally gone to the dogs and been completely turned on its head. I think another important facet to this argument is that there's definitely a hazy distinction between art and commerce. A key factor in my unwillingness to support Trovata is the idea that I don't feel that their designs are art. I feel that their designs are not one of a kind, that they're made (generally) for the mass public in mind and not to make any kind of "statement" that extends beyond a fashionable one; and most importantly, are not made for "social good" or to make an artistic, overarching critique or commentary on society, but are created to make money. That is my issue. If it was genuinely created for beauty, for aesthetic pleasure, questioning, and critique - I would think differently. But based on what this story is telling us, it's not; I feel like they created these items for profit. Of course, the argument for both sides are very subjective and would very much depend on your individual interpretation of art and commerce and really, culture's role in society in yes.
Advah Advah 8 years
Good point Magalaya. The clothes do look very much the same, but then again for each season you can find the same thing in every single shop. H&M, Zara, Gap...all carry the same kind of top/skirts at the moment.
nygurl nygurl 8 years
all designers get their inspiration from someone else, or some other source. but F21 was pretty blatant about knocking off trovata. F21 was just too lazy to change some of the design elements. for this they deserve to get sued.
soapbox soapbox 8 years
F21 always did this, can't say I'm not surprised. The worse thing I ever saw from them was when they copied Harajuku lovers That was just too much Anywho, I still shop there!
clew001 clew001 8 years
This is so bad, but the reason I shop at F21 is because it's affordable clothes that is fashion forward...if they didn't copy everyone else's designs, my clothes wouldn't look as cute! I can't decide! F21 are blatant with their rip offs...but where would I go to get dirt cheap, trendy pieces?
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
[Gasp!] I love's hard to know who to side with. People people who shop at F21 are looking for a deal, but to me this is as bad as plagiarism.
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
That's what F21 does!
Punk-Glam-Queen Punk-Glam-Queen 8 years
bastylefilegirl, while you are correct in the assumption that many designers have people working and designing for the line, the fact remains that the design was *someone's* art, and it was stolen and copied exactly. There are a lot of assumptions flying around -- how do we know the fabric and materials, not to mention the workmanship (ie not made in china by slave labourers) are worthy of the price tag? I hope Travota does win, and the laws are revised to protect other designer's and their hard work.
skypacer skypacer 8 years
copying trovota's designs? hello i dun see any "designing" in those clothes, just basic cardigans and tees which are very similar to others out there. i myself have two pieces that are 99% similar to those featured (not from f21). trovota has no case at all.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
This is obviously copying, but it shows why I love forever21 in the first place: the exact same look and style for a fraction of the price
wanderlusting wanderlusting 8 years
Interesting - half of my closet is from Forever 21, but in this case I would have to side with Travota. I just don't know why F21 had to EXACTLY copy these hideous shirts lol. It's quite obvious that they are the same and that this is more than "inspiration" - I think my belovedly cheap F21 went too far in this case, they really shouldn't have added those buttons! I think Travota has a good case and will hopefully win - again, it's one thing to be inspired (believe me, I have my shared of "inspired" clothes) but another to do a copy to the exact details. I don't know how they thought that no one would notice. At first I thought it said Travolta and was amused that John had taken to designing clothes now. He would DEFINITELY win in that case.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
it's really interesting to read these comments, because i remember the ravings of mad women i read when Fab posted about Louboutin suing someone for using the red soil. People were furious and completely on Louboutin's side, but here it's very diverse.
tellmemorex2 tellmemorex2 8 years
I love F21 & I always see copies there, but I cant afford the real deal so its ok w/ me.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
While I agree that some Fashion is art this is not that type of case. A lot of designers have people working for them and designing so it's truly not even there "art work" being shown it's boils down to a name on a label and charging more for the same material...which cheats the Consumer!
Forever 21 Sunglasses
Stores Like Forever 21
Forever 21 Bridesmaid
Is Forever 21 Opening a Beauty Store?
From Our Partners
Latest Fashion
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds