Forever 21 'steals' anti-fast-fashion artist's work

By Georgina Rannard
BBC News

image sourceTwitter
image captionForever 21 India used designer Elizabeth Illing's work without permission on its Instagram page

High Street retailer Forever 21 has been criticised for unsolicited use of an anti-fast-fashion artist's image to promote its clothing on Instagram.

The artist said she was shocked a fashion brand "would openly make light of the disposable garment culture".

The fashion industry is estimated to produce as many greenhouse gases as all the planes flying in the world.

The image, posted on the global company's Indian Instagram page on Monday, has now been deleted.

In a statement Forever 21 told the BBC: "We missed the mark by not reviewing the post in question before it was posted by our local franchisee's account. We'd like to apologize for the post and recognize that it was not in good taste and promptly had it removed."

Elizabeth Illing , 25, aims to highlight the environmental impact of fast fashion by reproducing quotes from interviews she conducted with consumers who do not shop sustainably.

Fast-fashion shoppers tend to buy cheap and often in order to keep up with fashion trends - but many retailers' production methods use vast amounts of water and release chemicals into the environment.

The image posted by Forever 21 depicts a label reading: "I probably won't wear this dress again because it's already on my Instagram."

When posting the picture, the company added the caption: "Now, let's be honest here," which critics on social media said implied the brand supported unsustainable fashion.

"By posting this, you blatantly disregard and insult every effort being made to slow fashion consumption not to mention efforts to preserve the natural world," said curator Cat Morrison.

Another user on Instagram wrote, "How can you promote such a post? Stop misguiding your target audience in the wrong direction just to increase your sales and profits. Reuse clothes."

Ms Illing , who lives in London, told BBC News Forever 21 had missed the point she had been trying to highlight in her work.

She set up Project Stop Shop as a fashion student when she started questioning her desire to work in the industry.

"When I knew how unethical it could be, I decided to use my final year project to create attention-grabbing imagery that pointed out the problem," she said.

She interviewed shoppers to find out their attitudes to buying clothes and designed clothes labels containing the most shocking quotes.

They include: "As soon as I've bought something, I immediately start thinking about my next purchase," and: "If something costs less than £10, I want to buy it even if I don't like it that much."

A report by the Environmental Audit. Committee singled out Amazon, TK Maxx and Misguided as among the "least engaged in sustainable fashion initiatives.