Small business owner says ‘ethical’ clothing brand stole her design

@ghostsoda/TikTok MingaLondon

‘Meanwhile, I’m struggling to pay my tuition’: Small business owner says ‘ethical’ clothing brand stole her design

'The way I gasped when I saw the photo of your design.'

 

Braden Bjella

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Posted on Jan 20, 2024   Updated on Jan 22, 2024, 2:32 pm CST

A user on TikTok is calling out a fashion label after they allegedly stole one of her designs.

Hannah Valentine (@ghostsoda) is a designer who creates pieces under the label Ghost Soda. One of her designs features an eyeball surrounded by a swirl pattern. In the middle of the swirl are the words, “I See All.”

Now, in a TikTok video with over 360,000 views as of Saturday, Valentine (@ghostsoda) claims that Minga London began selling a tie with this very design.

“…One of my followers messaged me with this link that Minga London stole my design and put it on a tie, and now they’re selling it on their website,” she says. “And not only that, but Minga London preaches ethical design, ethical fashion.”

“I’m, like, on the verge of tears because that is my eyeball,” she adds. “What’s actually beyond messed up is this is my handwriting and that’s my eyeball and the rest of it is just a swirl. Like, this is 100% my design. Like, that’s my eyeball, that’s my handwriting.”

Valentine goes on to note that, in contrast to Minga London, she is the only employee of her business and cannot afford to produce products at scale in the same way that Minga London can.

“I’m just confused and mad and frustrated because they’re probably going to make thousands of dollars off of this design,” she states. “Meanwhile I’m struggling to pay my tuition for my education.”

The Daily Dot was able to confirm that a product bearing a strong resemblance to Valentine’s design was once for sale on the Minga London website; however, it appears that it has been removed.

While Minga London does not appear to have released a statement about the issue, the brand did leave a comment under a repost of the TikTok video on Valentine’s Ghost Soda Instagram account.

“We’ve tried reaching out and are waiting to hear back from you. We genuinely apologize for the situation and are committed to making things right!” the brand wrote. “Unfortunately, this was beyond our control and it’s not reflective of the standards we aim for. We’ll actively work to improve our processes and do better in the future. We look forward to your contact to rectify the situation in the best possible way!”

@ghostsoda @mingalondon SHAME ON YOU FOR STEALING MY ART‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️ You dont care about ETHICS!!!!!!! #mingalondon #stolenart ♬ original sound – hannah valentine

Minga London has been accused of similar issues in the past. For example, one TikToker claimed that the brand stole one of her jewelry designs; the allegedly stolen design was removed from their store soon after.

In the comments section of Valentine’s video, users encouraged her to pursue further action against the company.

“CONTACT A LAWYER,” stated a user.

“It is so brazen. They could play it off as misconduct by a rogue designer, but only if they immediately explained and offered to hand profits and/or a license fee to you. Otherwise, just thieves,” declared a second.

The Daily Dot reached out to Minga London via email and Ghost Soda via Instagram direct message.

Update 2:32am CT, Jan. 22, 2023:

In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, the TikToker said that Minga London had reached out to her, but she did not plan on responding as she was seeking legal representation.

“I am pursuing a lawyer right now, and I am going to work with my lawyer for the best possible outcome for me,” she stated. “I am hoping they cease selling ALL stolen artwork from smaller artists, and they start hiring IN-HOUSE designers and stop outsourcing designs from places that steal art.”

She also questioned the brand’s comment on her page, which read that the situation was “beyond our control.”

In response to a question about the meaning of the statement, she wrote, “I’m unsure because a clothing brand should know everything in their inventory and where it came from and who designed it.”

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*First Published: Jan 20, 2024, 10:00 am CST