InstaParasiting? I bet you’ve never heard of it before!
Well, let me help you; it is about celebrities, fast fashion, and you.
Dressing like a celebrity has always been one of my dreams, and I am sure that most of you, fashionistas out there, relate to this.
Surrounded by top fashion designers and stylists, we hail celebs as the ultimate trendsetters in fashion.
However, fashion brands have discovered a way to exploit our desire to look like celebs, with dire consequences to the planet.
How? Read more to find out.
Dress Like A Celebrity For Attention And Fame
Thanks to the constant media exposure, celebrities have an implicit trust with us, their followers.
In some ways, I’ve always felt connected with TV celebrities and cinema stars.
Moreover, the advent of social media has brought these celebrities closer to me; as I am seeing them every day, from the comfort of my home.
I follow them on Instagram to see what they do, where they go, what they wear.
And just like me, there are millions of followers from all over the world, browsing celebs Instagram profiles, seeking inspiration in their looks, habits, and lifestyles.
We see them in casual wear, gym outfits, office dresses, vegan boots, eco-friendly bags, as they’re flaunting their latest acquisitions, again and again.
Understandably, we all feel an unstoppable need to copy their styles and benefit from that ‘dress like a celebrity’ attention grabber and fame.
However, our desire to copy celebrities and their styles have been exploited by some unscrupulous businesses, at a serious cost to us and the planet, as I am going to detail below.
This exploit is based on the ‘InstaParasiting,’ and has lead to the creation of parasitic, fast fashion business models.
Before I detail how fast fashion works and its detrimental effect on the industry, I’ll have to explain what I mean by the InstaParasiting in Fashion.
What Is ‘InstaParasiting’ In Fashion?
‘InstaParasiting’ is the obsessive scouting of celebrities and emerging designers on Instagram by fast fashion brands. Their aim is to find, copy, replicate, and sell new celeb styles even before the creatives that have made them manage to produce them themselves and before celebrities wear them in public.
That’s the business model: steal, replicate, sell.
“Nowadays, anyone, anywhere, could spot a fresh style, copy and sell it, without consequences or having to follow the classic hierarchy of fashion,” explains fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff.
The problem with ‘InstaParasiting’ is that it lies at the core of the fast fashion business model.
Why? Because fast fashion businesses are those that steal and replicate one design into several million copies.
“In relation to the planet and the fashion industry, the fast fashion business model is a parasite that depletes the body. Fast fashion does not create anything new or useful; its only role is to copy and multiply, again and again. In the process, it depletes vital resources and creates waste, to a point when there’s nothing left and the body dies“, explains Laurenti Arnault, CEO of Wardrobe of Tomorrow.
Simply put, if we don’t act fast to stop this ‘virus’, the planet will be choked and the fashion industry destroyed.
But let’s see how InstaParasiting powers up the business of fast fashion.
Just like Laurenti said, for the parasite to survive it needs something to copy and replicate.
In the past, fast fashion scouts had to see the original pieces either on the catwalk, printed magazine, or physical world to start the copying process.
Nowadays, Instagram is their weapon of choice.
Once a fresh fashion creation lands on social media, the fast-fashion army of scouts starts the process of stealing.
Those styles are sent for approval, and the copying-replicating process begins.
In less than 24 hours, millions of copies are created, ready to be shipped.
Moreover, as these copies are created by SEVERAL fast fashion companies, sometimes at the same time, the original creator is often lost in the shuffle.
Fashion Copying Problem
Interestingly enough, celebrities are aware of the fast fashion problem and fight back.
The best example is Kim Kardashian-West vs Missguided, a British fast fashion giant.
It all started when Kim Kardashian-West took to social media to condemn fast fashion brands stealing designers’ work.
On her Instagram account, Kim posted a pic where she was wearing a dress made by Kanye, pleading:
“Going through old fitting pics & found this gold look that Kanye made for me for my Miami trip last summer. I went w the neon vibes instead. P.S. fast fashion brands, can you please wait until I wear this in real life before you knock it off?“
Almost immediately, the fast-fashion brand Missguided replied:
“Kim Kardashian you’ve only got a few days before this drops online!“
While Missguided’s reply could be interpreted as a joke, it is important to know that this was not the first time when Missguided copied and replicated Kim’s style.
The brand had the strange habit of reposting Kim’s Instagram snaps – with their own logo on – for good measure.
To top it up, the British fast fashion brand featured several photos of Kim and Kanye West, on its Instagram page, as memes.
Their idea was to make it look like the celebrity was endorsing the brand.
So much so, that at some point, the company had an entire section on its online marketplace dedicated to celeb styles.
In particular, ‘Crushin on Kim K‘ was the section were Kardashian’s looks were paired with the brand’s cheaper alternatives.
However, after being taken to court by Kim, the company took that section down.
The stealing got so bad that Kim had no alternative but to take the brand to court, stating:
“Missguided has inappropriately used Kardashian’s name and likeness in conjunction with its brand and violated trademarks around her name, which have been used to advertise company’s own products.”
Immediately, Missguided’s post – in which the company says it’ll have a similar dress in a few days – was removed from their official Insta account.
Then, the fast fashion brand followed with a statement:
“Any action based on online banter would be meritless. Missguided shoppers know the score; we’re about the celeb look, for people without their bucks. For the record, as much as we love her style, we’re not working with Kim on anything.”
Eventually, Kim won the case against Missguided.
Nevertheless, InstaParasiting has continued…
…but, with different celebs this time!
View this post on Instagram
⚡️Outfit one ‘white co ord double breasted blazer’ £31.50/$28 ‘white co ord oversized masculine trousers’ £25.20 ‘white quilted high heel mule’ £28.90 ‘white minimal scoop neck bikini top’ £5.60/$6 ⚡️Outfit two ‘‘black faux leather oversized biker jacket’ £40.50/$36’ ‘blue stretch satin clear strap mini dress’ £20/$20 ‘black eyelet detail shoulder bag’ £12/$16 ‘black oval cateye sunglasses’ £6.50/$6 ⚡️Outfit three ‘lime abstract print short sleeve shirt’ £18/$16 ‘blue riot turn up denim mom shorts’ £10/$20 ‘white clear sole high top trainers’ £28 ⚡️Outfit four ‘black velvet diamante belt blazer dress’ £42/$84 ‘silver look diamante waterfall strand earrings’ £6.40/$8 ‘black quilted high heel mules’ £28.80/$25
View this post on Instagram
⚡️Outfit one ‘tan woven textured shoulder bag’ £7.50 ‘petite brown co ord cord corset crop top’ £10/$20 ‘stone co ord fleece high neck zip sweatshirt’ £10.80/$14 ‘stone co ord fleece 90s joggers’ £15.40/$17 ⚡️Outfit two ‘white co ord faux leather windbreaker skirt’ £20/$20 ‘white co ord faux leather windbreaker jacket’ £32/$32 ⚡️Outfit three ‘Nude dragon print mesh scrappy mini dress’ currently out of stock ⚡️Outfit four ‘cream button through denim jumpsuit’ £36/$36 ‘blue toe post strappy heels’ £24/$24 ‘green tropical print satin corset crop top’ £20/$20 ⚡️Outfit five ‘lime sequin bandeau mini dress’ £28/$28 ⚡️Outfit six ‘playboy x missguided black contrast piping oversized joggers’ £22.50/$20 ‘playboy x missguided black oversized crew neck sweatshirt’ £25.20/$22
Biggest InstaParasiting Brands
Now, when stealing is initiated by a fast fashion company, most companies follow fast.
Apart from Missguided, there is Boohoo, Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal…all recursing to InstaParasiting as their business model.
The list can go on for days, with many more fast fashion giants, guilty of everything that’s wrong in fashion right now, from modern slavery to ecological disasters!
Here’s a quick recap of some fast fashion business using the InstaParasiting model.
These brands are stealing and copying trends with the sole aim of bringing them to market before the creators manage to do it themselves:
- Forever 21 has imitated everything in the past; phone cases, popular feminist tees, Instagram-famous swimwear, and even coats from a Fashion Fund finalists.
- Boohoo a fast-fashion conglomerate that’s facing modern slavery investigation in the UK, steals, copy, and put in its stores any products in as little as a week.
- ASOS boasts similar copying and manufacturing speeds. So much so, that the fast fashion giant adds 4,000 new styles to its site, every week!
- Zara has a laundry list of its own. In the past, the Spanish fast-fashion giant was caught creating copies of Balenciaga sneakers and Kanye West’s coveted Yeezys, and many more.
Zara has also ripped off pins from illustrator Tuesday Bassen, and replicated sandals by designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve been pretty quiet about this, until now. Over the past year, @zara has been copying my artwork (thanks to all that have tipped me off–it’s been a lot of you). I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I’m an indie artist and they’re a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter. I plan to further press charges, but even to have a lawyer get this LETTER has cost me $2k so far. 〰 It sucks and it’s super disheartening to have to spend basically all of my money, just to defend what is legally mine. ⚡️ EDIT: Some of you are asking how you can help. Repost and tag them, on Twitter, on Insta, on Facebook. I don’t want to have to burden any of you with the financial strain that comes with lawsuits.
The truth is that fast fashion brands steal everything that sells.
From high-end designers to emerging ones, nobody’s safe against these parasites.
Nothing stops fast fashion brands from creating identical copies…
… as long as there are no original logos, branded names, or prints.
Even worse, ripping off designer styles is one thing.
However, mass creating millions of replicas require cheap labour in inhuman conditions.
…Which translates into neverending cases of modern slavery in fast fashion.
Back to the business of stealing other’s hard work, most fast fashion giants openly admit that their ever-growing business models are based on InstaParasiting.
While there’s no cure InstaParasiting, there’s a way to fight back parasitic businesses that steal designers’ work.
The case of Roberts vs Old Navy.
Carrie Anne Roberts is a single mom British designer, creator of the clothing brand Mère Soeur.
One day, she found out that Old Navy was selling a copy of her most popular T-shirt, for half the original price.
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When you’re having a hard week/month then you find out the @oldnavy are the next in a long line of big brands to rip you off except they literally lifted the EXACT SAME DESIGN from your shirt. EXACTLY THE SAME. well done ya pure divs #oldnavy #oldnavystyle #shameonyoulilbish pretty sure they’re allowed to steal your words but not your exact design so if anyone knows anything about this sort of sshhhh let me know
The t-shirt has “Raising the Future” printed across the chest and is one of Roberts’s best-selling products. Old-Navy knock-off was identical.
Infuriated, Roberts posted the Old Navy dupes to Instagram, lamenting about being copied by a huge brand.
She received more than 800 comments of support, many from people who also left angry comments on Old Navy Instagram posts and posted negative reviews of the T-shirts on Old Navy’s website.
The company quickly contacted Roberts via email, arguing that she didn’t trademark the phrases “Raising the Future” or “The Future.”
Therefore, she does not have a trademark for the font or the t-shirts’ graphic design.
As such, according to them, Roberts has zero legal rights.
However, the continuous social media backlash helped Roberts to fight the fast fashion giant.
After days of being swatted with criticism, Old Navy removed the copied shirts from its site.
Moreover, in an email to Roberts, Old Navy state that no additional orders – for the disputed t-shirt – would be placed.
“Big businesses see small businesses like mine as idea generators and nothing more. But the idea behind this T-shirt has inspired my whole business. It is my business. Now, stripped of all its meaning, it feels violating,” said Roberts.
Without the help of vocal fans that have taken action on social media, it is unlikely that the Gap-owned giant would have stopped ripping off Roberts.
When InstaParasiting Goes Full Circle
Then, there’s the case of Dapper Dan against the luxury house Gucci.
It is a story of Gucci ripping off Dapper Dan, which brings the copycat issue full circle.
Dan became famous for using counterfeit Gucci, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton logo prints to make bomber jackets, jumpsuits, and hoodies.
Dan ran his business for a decade until he got sued for copyright infringement in 1992.
Eventually, his Harlem-based fashion store went out of business due to litigation fees.
But, after Gucci copied one of his styles, the social media went mad, and Gucci’s solution to settle the dispute was via a collaboration with Dapper Dan.
However, it is clear that it would have been no happy ending for Dan without an online mob located globally, that engaged the Italian giant in a social media war.
Now, you might argue that ‘this is how fashion works.’
Well, no, fashion does not work like this.
Stealing others’ work and depleting the planet’s resources is not fashion, it is crime.
Dress Like A Celebrity – At What Cost?
Beyond the ripping off of other’s work, fast fashion creates severe ecological and ethical problems.
Granted, not everybody can afford to dress like a celebrity, with the price tags straight off the catwalks of London Fashion Week.
But that’s not an excuse to let fast fashion companies deplete, pollute, and destroy the environment with millions of copies that almost always end up in the landfills.
Consequently, InstaParasiting leads to bigger problems, such as sustainability, pollution, depletion of resources and so on.
While it is purse-friendly, fast fashion always comes at a cost, somewhere else…
As expected, the high speed of manufacturing required by fast fashion creates further issues relating to low wages and poor working conditions.
To keep manufacturing costs low, fast fashion brands have taken their production to developing countries…
..where, in inhuman conditions, thousands of workers are exploited every day.
Moreover, it would be insane to expect a parasite company – that steals from others and depletes the planet – to have morals when it comes to the people it employs.
No, they don’t care, so in most cases, your celeb copies are made by children, forced to work extra hours when demand is high.
What Can I Do To Fight Fast Fashion?
Our desire to dress like celebrities and stars won’t go away anytime soon.
We are wired to copy people who we perceive as successful.
The clothes we wear acts like a silent language that allows us to ‘SHOUT’:
“I am like these celebrities. I am wealthy, successful, desired, and admired.“
And there’s nothing wrong in that.
But it gets out of order when your choices cost the planet.
When the result of your choices are children abused in factories, forced to work for less than 10 cents an hour.
When your choice leads to the discouragement of emerging fashion designers.
When it stops them from creating again, with no money to continue.
- First, consider who and how your clothes were made.
- Buying a style knowing it was stolen is not right!
- It is not the responsibility of brands alone, it is yours as well, as you are voting with your wallet.
And this takes me to the last point:
Dress Like A Celebrity … But Which One?
Dressing like a celebrity is easy. But…
…the blame is not only on fast fashion brands but also on the celebs that inspire us.
There are several celebrities on social media who actively promote a wasteful lifestyle.
But, there are several other types of celebrities…
…fighting for a better world.
These are the celebrities you want to follow, learn from, and dress like.
Create The Change You Want To See
Social media, Instagram in particular, can act as a double-edged sword.
Let’s recall for a second the #WhoMademMyClothes movement started by Fashion Revolution…
… or #Payup initiated by ReMake.
These are some of the best examples of how social media can be used as a powerful tool to push brands to create positive change.
Movements like these empower people into a collective voice that can force giant companies, governments even, to take action.
Movements started on social media can force brands – that want to protect sales and image – to take action when faced by thousands of customers criticising them.
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/ BREAKING: @levis agrees to #PayUp, the brand is sticking with its delayed payment timelines, but has agreed to extend low-cost financing to ALL suppliers who need it while they wait. ⠀ : This is a compromise that protects workers in the near-term, just as declining demand for apparel is impacting suppliers moving forward. ⠀ : Levi’s works w/ hundreds of factories, mostly in Asia and South America, and indirectly employs more than 300,000 garment and textile workers, compared to just 15,100 direct employees in its retail stores and corporate offices. ⠀ : Urooj Khan, Associate Professor of Business at Columbia Business School says that Levi’s is “well positioned to pay on time for orders because its jeans and t-shirts are seasonless, and unused merchandise can continue to sell throughout the year”. ⠀ ❗️Unlike @Sears, who owes $40M to garment factories in Bangladesh AND is now being sued by suppliers, @levis is merely delaying payments to factories for completed goods up to 90 days after they’re delivered, a common but unfortunate practice in an industry where brands wield inordinate power over factories + workers. ⠀ Our founder captured it best, saying “given #Levis public commitment to worker wellbeing, I hope the company focuses on the provision of direct emergency relief, lends support to public funds going into the hands of garment workers and commits to living wages and social protections in the near future.” ⠀ Remake looks for your HELP to hold other brands accountable to pay on-time, ahead of some competitors facing dire financial outlooks! ⠀ source @elizabethlcline @forbes
“Thankfully, the internet outrage cycle burns at a speed that – fittingly and beautifully – mirrors that of the fast-fashion industry,” – Rueen Amiriara, Co-founder of Wardrobe of Tomorrow.
Last but not least…
I get why this idea of dressing like a celebrity appeals so much to all of us.
Yet, we have to remember that once a style enters the InstaParasiting cycle, by reaching the greedy hands of fast fashion, in less than a week there are MILLIONS of people, wearing the same style, just like me and you.
We’re no longer unique, we’re just more copies, victims of another parasite that destroys the planet.
Should This Resonate With You…
Spread the word about InstaParasiting!
Help others see the horror of fast fashion.
Share your experience with us, and what you can do to fight the urge to dress like a celeb.
Finally, I am very much looking fwd to seeing your comments below.
WTVOX – ‘Voicing the Future of Fashion’
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