Small jewelry brand worn by Doja Cat, K-pop stars accuses Forever 21 of 'stealing' designs: 'It's pathetic'

A small New York City-based jewelry company has accused Forever 21 of “stealing” one of its necklace designs.

According to OHT, which posted the allegations on Instagram on Sept. 23, the brand had been selling its Pearl Cross Necklace since January 2021. The Instagram post included a screenshot of a Forever 21 post for a “Cross Pendant Faux Pearl Necklace,” which appears to have since been taken down from Forever 21’s official site.

In The Know reached out to Forever 21 for comment and has not heard back as of the time of reporting.

“Hours were spent by our team brainstorming, perfecting, and making this design a reality,” OHT wrote. “It’s sad to see our design, which we began making by hand in New York for almost two years, reduced to a mass produced copy most likely made in unethical, fast fashion sweat shops.”

OHT was founded by Jinsol Woo who wanted to design pieces that anyone could wear without worrying about gender or stereotypes.

“I created my brand in order to appeal to anyone and everyone, no matter how you identify and express yourself,” Woo told Teen Vogue in a May interview. “I don’t want to force labels on people, so why label the pieces I create?”

The brand has since blossomed and is considered a favorite among K-pop idols.

Forever 21 is a fast-fashion brand, which refers to retailers that design items quickly and cheaply in order to sell them at low prices and mass-produce items to keep up with accelerating fashion trends.

Good On You, a website that rates fashion brands on ethical practices, reported in 2021 that Forever 21 isn’t transparent about its environmental impact and rates its labor conditions as “very poor.”

“We first found out about the design from customers, who sent us pictures [and] videos after they discovered the necklaces both in-store and online,” OHT executive director Lin Ye told In The Know. “As a small business in NYC, and with all of our products being handmade in our office by our small team, and many of our treasured friends, family and celebrity clients sporting the necklaces to events which are our bestsellers, it definitely hurt us.”

Ye provided In The Know with screenshots comparing two other OHT designs with ones sold by Forever 21.

<em>Screenshot provided by OHT</em>
Screenshot provided by OHT
<em>Screenshot provided by OHT</em>
Screenshot provided by OHT

Ye also pointed out that founder Woo’s story and dedication to the brand — particularly during COVID — underlines how unfair it is to see similar designs being sold for less at Forever 21.

“Jin has amassed a really large and loyal social media following as well, going viral for his story and background coming from Korea, speaking no English and having less than $20 in his pocket,” Ye said. “His life has been difficult, to say the least, and up until the middle of COVID, Jin was bartending every day until 5 a.m. to help fund his business. He is the hardest worker I’ve ever met.”

OHT’s callout caught the attention of rapper Doja Cat, who has worn some of the brand’s pieces before.

“Stop f****** stealing from small businesses it’s pathetic,” Doja Cat tweeted to her 5.4 million followers, tagging Forever 21. “These people are my friends and all y’all do is leech. Do better how f****** embarrassing.”

According to Ye, Doja Cat owns OHT’s entire collection and has never been paid to wear the products.

“All we really want is for Forever 21 to offer a genuine apology and to take responsibility,” Ye concluded.

The post NYC jewelry brand accuses Forever 21 of ‘stealing’ design appeared first on In The Know.

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