Q&A: Stephanie Drabik, the Crywolf boutique owner who says Zara stole her design
Stephanie Drabik and Rose Chang—owners of Ossington boutique Crywolf—were shocked to learn last week that Zara was selling a lapel pin with a strong resemblance to their own Healing Cloud creation, which Crywolf debuted in 2014:
We had just heard this morning about @tuesdaybassen and other indie companies having their designs ripped off by @zara. Low and behold, this afternoon it was brought to our attention by @adamjk that Zara @bershkacollection has stolen our Healing Cloud design. We had a similar situation arise a few years ago and discovered then that it's a futile legal battle for small, independent companies when you're up against big, greedy, corporations with teams of OP lawyers. It's disheartening and pathetic. We don't even know what to do, but feel free to boycott and repost, tag Zara on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc and call them out for their lack of creativity and for profiting off the hard work of small companies that often just try to stay afloat in the sea of big companies. It's bullshit. #zaraexposed #zaraarttheft #zara
They’re just two in a group of more than 20 artists who have recently seen what appear to be copies of their work being sold by the massive Spanish clothing chain. There’s now a #boycottzara movement picking up steam on social media, in support of the indie artists. For its part, Zara has removed the offending pins from its online store, and Intidex—the company that owns Zara—has said in a statement that it is investigating the artists’ claims of plagiarism: “Inditex has the utmost respect for the individual creativity of all artists and designers,” the company told Vogue, “and takes all claims concerning third party intellectual property rights very seriously.”
We spoke to Drabik about her and Chang’s plans to fight back, the importance of indie fashion and why their pin is totally the Michelle Obama to Zara’s Melania Trump.
How did you first discover that Zara was selling a pin that is virtually identical to your “Healing Cloud” pin?
It was late last week. We had just caught wind of that the American artist Tuesday Bassen was suing Zara for allegedly stealing her pin designs. Later that afternoon, a friend alerted us to a Twitter post by an artist named Adam J. Kurtz who had posted a photo of one of his pins that had also had a Zara copycat. The Zara version of Kurtz’s pin was part of a set of six, and the one that looks like our Healing Cloud was right beside it:
btw i actually got my hands on these before they were taken off the berksha website and they hilarious in person pic.twitter.com/BMoV0OCKwv
— Adam J. Kurtz (@adamjk) July 20, 2016
Did you guys march into your closest Zara store and tear a strip off of them?
We didn’t. We were shocked when we saw it, and then very quickly we realized that there were a lot of artists involved. We weren’t sure of what to do exactly and we wanted more information, to see what our options were.
So what are your options?
We’re still figuring that out. After we posted the side-by-side photo of our pin and Zara’s pin on Instagram and Facebook, we had people reach out and put us in touch with lawyers who specialize in this area. We’ve spoken to a couple of people, but we’re still proceeding with caution. Because it’s happened to so many people, I feel like maybe we can come together and do something about it.
REGRAM @shoparttheft – an updated list of independent artists who's designs have been stolen by Zara, including ours. @adamjk has put together this incredible archive for you to find, follow and support the individual artists affected and to hold Zara and its companies accountable for their actions. We support @tuesdaybassen and all of the artists above and hope you do too. We will not be bullied! #shoparttheft #zaraarttheft #pins #pingame
What is your manufacturing process and price point like, compared to Zara’s?
I think their set of six pins was selling for around $5 whereas our single pin is $10. I believe they are able to charge those prices because of mass-production. All of our designs are based on of our original drawings, and the pins are manufactured in relatively small run. We put a lot of work and care and thought into what we do, so when a large company that turns stuff over so quickly does the same, it feels like a slap in the face. Healing Cloud was meant to be a positive force—a little cloud that protects you, and makes you happy. It’s crying, but it’s smiling, so it’s like it’s pouring happiness down on you.
There is a #boycottzara campaign going on, started by some of the other artists caught up in this story. Are you guys supporting it?
We’re aware of the boycott. Whether people want to shop at Zara, that’s up to them. We definitely won’t. We’re generally really supportive of independent artists. We’re friends with a lot of other artists, shop at each other’s stores.
I've been pretty quiet about this, until now. Over the past year, @zara has been copying my artwork (thanks to all that have tipped me off–it's been a lot of you). I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I'm an indie artist and they're a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter. I plan to further press charges, but even to have a lawyer get this LETTER has cost me $2k so far. 〰 It sucks and it's super disheartening to have to spend basically all of my money, just to defend what is legally mine. ⚡️ EDIT: Some of you are asking how you can help. Repost and tag them, on Twitter, on Insta, on Facebook. I don't want to have to burden any of you with the financial strain that comes with lawsuits.
In theory, I’m totally with you, but then you walk by H&M or wherever and there’s this adorable romper in the window that costs less than a latte. It can be so tempting.
I know. It’s important to think about the downfalls of fast fashion—where your clothes are being made and under what conditions. If it’s allowing people pause and think for a second before they purchase, that that’s definitely a positive. Another positive is all the support we’ve received. We’ve had people come into the store just to tell us that they’re with us and so much support on social media. One person made this photo where they put our Healing Cloud over Michelle Obama’s face and Zara’s cloud over Melania Trump. That was pretty great.
A previous version of this post misspelled Stephanie Drabik's surname as Drabnik, and Rose Chang's surname as Chan. The post has since been updated.