Cara Delevingne caught herself in a controversy, and it's all centered around a sweatshirt. The actress/model recently posted a photo with Adwoa Aboah to Instagram to announce that she would be selling sweatshirts with the phrase "The Future Is Female." All proceeds, she announced, will go toward the Girl Up! campaign. But there's a major problem: She plagiarized Otherwild, the company that originally designed the sweatshirts in an effort to benefit Planned Parenthood. While the phrase itself is fair use—it was coined on a shirt worn by Alix Dobkin in 1975 in a photograph taken by Liza Cowan—the version that Delevingne is selling blatantly copies Otherwild's design.
The women-run L.A. design collective Otherwild, which admits that it doesn't actually own the copyright of the design, are bringing the issue to the public's attention via social media. Prior to the brand's Instagram post, people had been calling out Delevingne in the comments section of her photo and sharing the image via Twitter. Delevingne and her girlfriend Annie Clark have been seen wearing Otherwild's "The Future Is Feminist" shirts before.
Delevingne has yet to respond about the sweatshirts.
I took down my post yesterday about #thefutureisfemale controversy, because the negative commentary was overwhelming me, but I wanted to share my thoughts and this image which shows #Otherwild's sweatshirt on the left, and @caradelevingne's identical version on the right. The slogan "The Future Is Female" originates from Jane Lurie's and Marizel Rios' Labyris Books (1972), and Otherwild used @lizacowan's image of Alix Dobkin in the shirt (1975) with permission, as originally seen on Kelly Rakowski's @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y. Otherwild's redesign and reissue of the FIF tees and buttons is protected under copyright law, which mandates that any reproduction of an existing known public work must be altered at least 20% from the original. If model/actress Cara Delevingne wanted to sell my line, she would need to wholesale them from Otherwild, and because we donate 25% of our line's proceeds to Planned Parenthood, Delevingne's ethical practice would benefit not only our woman-owned small business but would also serve as a significant donation to PP. Delevingne could also choose not to wholesale from Otherwild and create her own design of the slogan on clothing to sell. But Delevingne's choice to lift and manufacture Otherwild's design, claiming it as her own to sell with an undisclosed charitable offering, is indefensible. Her actions ironically counter the very message of the slogan "The Future Is Female", and it's confounding that she would do this to a small queer feminist-owned business after purchasing the product from us just a few weeks ago. Although under pressure, Delevingne has changed the line's attribution several times in the past 24 hrs., she has not yet offered to wholesale from us nor cease and desist blatantly copying and selling our designs.