by Maya Brown
That is exactly what Rachel Kane does on her website www.wtforever21.com. She posts about clothing and apparel that the popular store Forever21 markets. However, what started out as a way to take up time between writing jobs and poking fun at a store, is now the center of a lawsuit .
Forever 21 is suing Kane claiming that talking badly about their brand and using it as a substitute for “colloquial expression” is harming their business and therefore constitutes trademark infringement. In April, Forever21 sent her a cease and desist letter requesting that she take down the website by June 10th.
Kane has stated that she believes she is actually helping business because if one of her readers clicks on a link to the Forever21 website they might find something they like. She also partakes in a ‘Wonderful Wednesday’ where she praises a piece of clothing or apparel from the store.
I honestly have mixed feelings about this case. I think that she has every right to express her feelings about the brand and the clothing they sell. It’s absolutely true that some of the clothing is weird and wouldn’t look good on anyone. However, all stores have bizarre clothing in them. There are badly designed trinkets and unattractive jumpers in virtually every outlet. I see what Kane was trying to do, but I think she could have done it better. Targeting just Forever21 may not have been the best course of action. A better way to go would have been including multiple stores and making it more about the outrageous trends out there than just how bad the designers were for one store.
I do fully support her opinions on the clothing. While a lot of the clothing is just plain unattractive, there are some pieces that are annoying in other ways. One of the points she made in her blog was about the horrible plus sized outfits that Forever 21 sells. They’re baggy, lumpy and very frilly, as if to say that if you’re not a size zero, you should just give up and hide your body. She has also critiqued outfits that are too tight, too glittery, and involving less fabric than they should. Seriously, what is it with companies selling women’s bodies? Who would want to wear a crop top covered in sequins out in public?
I’m glad that Kane is standing her ground against this mega corporation. If Forever21 wants to stop press around this issue, they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them. Rachel’s story has been covered by every outlet from the Huffington Post to The New York Times and it’s inspiring to see a real woman standing up for herself and her writing. Even if she doesn’t go to court or doesn’t win, she will certainly have made a splash.
But this is where my mixed feelings come in. Rachel’s greatness aside, I can see Forever21’s viewpoint as well. They are a business, and they rely on customers to make money. Some of Kane’s blogs are pretty cruel–with little more than calling a necklace fugly. I’m all for getting our voices heard, but there’s a difference between stating our opinions and being mean. The media won’t listen if we’re talking behind their backs.