Online retailer Boohoo is being accused of ripping off the work of a young Black designer who has issued a cease-and-desist order to the fast-fashion brand.
Boohoo was accused by Fisayo Longe, in a now-removed viral post on Twitter, of ripping off one of her signature prints from her growing women’s brand Kai Collective.
“They are notorious for this and it's just, like, again? When is it going to be enough? When do you stop leeching off of the ideas of other people?” Longe told BuzzFeed News.
Boohoo has since removed the items Longe listed in her complaint from its website.
A spokesperson for the company declined to comment.
Longe, 28, is the creative director and owner of the London-based label that she launched in 2016 and described as her “dream.”
Kai Collective has become a popular brand among influencers and celebrities, including beauty influencer Jackie Aina and rapper Saweetie, but it was last year's launch of its marble print, now known mononymously as the "Gaia,” that Longe’s designs became a must-have item.
Last month, Boohoo promoted new arrivals to its website and Longe shared how she quickly found herself tagged in several posts.
“There were tweets and then people were tagging me on their Instagram post and when I saw it, even though I shouldn't be shocked, I was shocked. Usually, they cut me in a way that you can't be like, ‘Yes, for sure, like, you copied me. This is the same print.’ They're usually smarter about it, so I was really surprised when I saw just how similar it was,” she said.
Longe said her initial feeling of “disgust” was replaced with optimism; she had gone to extensive lengths to legally protect the Gaia print last year, shortly after its launch, and was granted the copyright in November.
“I knew that I had that registration with the Intellectual Property Office, so I felt optimistic,” she said. “I'm actually not going to keep quiet about this because Gaia is just such a big part of our identity now, so I knew that I was going to have to fight it, but at the same time, who wants to deal with this? I'd rather spend my time on stuff that benefits my business.”
In a detailed thread calling out Boohoo, Longe presented side-by-side examples of four items, including one top and three dresses, and the resemblance they bore to her custom print, which she sells online as a top and a dress.