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Feminist designer: ModCloth ripped off my print and won’t pay me back

Feminist designer: ModCloth ripped off my print and won’t pay me back
[Photo: Modcloth]

A year ago, Deva Pardue, a feminist artist and the design director at The Wing, decided to create a picture to express her feelings after the election of Donald Trump. She created an image of three fists, in various skin tones, each embellished with nail polish. This so-called “Femme Fist” print went viral on Instagram. Eventually Pardue plastered this image on merchandise, which she sold through her new brand For All Womankind, donating profits to worthy causes. She tells Fast Company that she has already donated $12,000 to the Center for Reproductive Rights and Emily’s List, and is hoping to donate another $5,000 by the end of the year.

Then, in October, Pardue began getting DMs on Instagram with screenshots of a T-shirt with that same image on it sold by ModCloth, which is now owned by Walmart. The image was identical to the one she had created–even the colors were the same. Pardue says her lawyer has sent ModCloth two letters, but the brand has not responded. “For All Womankind is a side hustle on top of my full time job,” Pardue says in an email. “I pack and ship orders night and weekends and I take no profit. That said, I find it extremely frustrating when something pure and grassroots is co-opted and monetized by huge corporations.”

When I reached out to a ModCloth spokesperson, she acknowledged that the shirt was on its website and has since been removed.  “As soon as we were made aware of the image, we removed the top from the site in November,” she says. “It is no longer available at all.”

But that’s not really what Pardue is concerned about. According to her, the brand is “not responding to requests to disclose the revenue they made, destroy existing inventory and pay a retroactive licensing fee. These huge companies are just assuming I can’t afford to sue them, which I can’t.”

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