Stolen Work? Filipino Artist Feanne Calls Out British Fashion Brand For Plagiarizing Her Designs
It's a story that should anger you: an artist spends years of her life perfecting her skill and making a living out of her creative properties, only to be stolen from by a large-scale brand claiming her designs to be their very own.
We've heard numerous iterations of these testaments of theft over the years and have rallied against such injustices, but when we're talking about a fellow Filipino who was victimized by such—then threatened for identifying and speaking out against her thieves—the rallying must turn into public outcry.
Feanne, a local artist who describes artworks as specializing in "detailed illustration work and fabric print design," is currently seeking support for her plight.
In an exclusive interview with her, she details, "My artwork was plagiarized by UK fashion brand Rixo. Not only have they profited off of prints bearing illustrations appearing identical to mine down to the irregularities in the lines, they also insist this to be their original hand-painted work which I find hard to believe."
"I found out about this in December 2018 (someone who saw the brand's clothing messaged me to ask if I did a collaboration with them). Since I didn't have records of licensing purchased by Rixo, I contacted them to ask if they obtained licensing for my work. [Then] in January 2019 with a very strongly worded letter [said] that they did not obtain a license, claiming that they created the designs independently in 2016, and threatening to countersue if I pursued this matter. Rixo’s letter to me includes one whole page talking about how the brand is very popular and highly regarded. I’m not sure how their fame is relevant to the discussion of their allegedly original prints which bear drawings that appear identical to mine," Feanne adds.
Feanne staunchly defends her position by providing a detailed timeline of events and documentation of the artwork she claims was plagiarized, bringing our attention to her "star, moon, cloud, sky" drawings that she created in 2014—the specific pattern which Rixo has repeatedly printed on several of its items beginning in 2016, up to the present.
Despite being publicly called out by Feanne, Rixo has kept a handful of its items featuring the said artwork on its website as of this writing.
The most ironic detail of this unfolding story is that the allegedly stolen artwork has been available for purchase on creativemarket.com for at least four years—apparently two years earlier than when Rixo first started using Feanne's designs. The website is an online exchange where artists post patterns, drawings, icons, fonts, texts and other graphics for companies or individuals to browse and legally obtain licenses for.
The standard license fee for using Feanne's work as stated on the website begins with an ultra-reasonable $17.
Last December, someone spotted my artwork printed on Rixo clothing and asked me about it. Rixo is a UK fashion brand that claims to have handpainted all their prints. Rixo did not contact me for a collaboration or commission. I have no records of licensing obtained by them. My lawyer wrote to them on December 23 to ask if they have a license for my work. Rixo’s lawyer replied on January 11 to say that they did not obtain licensing, and that the fabric prints are their own original handsketched works, independently created by the brand founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey in January 2016. I find it hard to believe that these were independently created, as even the asymmetry and irregularities in the lines are identical. I first published this artwork online in October 2014 on a licensing platform. I have the original drawings on paper, as well as the original scanned file dated October 2014. The linework is consistent with my illustration style. As an artist specializing in illustration, I have been publishing and exhibiting my work since 2006. I have been licensing out artwork since 2014, and creating my own fabric prints since 2015. Rixo has been using the Moonlit Sky and Oriental Sky prints, which contain my artwork, since 2016. The Moonlit Sky print is apparently among their bestsellers, such that they re-released it in 2017 and 2018. They used this print on clothing sold on retailers such as Net-A-Porter, and it was featured on publications such as WhoWhatWear. I’m sure these retailers and publications are unaware of this issue, and I believe they also have a right to know. Rixo even posted the print on social media saying “hours of hand painting and sketching this print have paid off”. I am publicly asserting my rights as the original artist. My lawyers at Stephenson Harwood UK have sent Rixo a letter response on March 29 to assert my claim. I demand that Rixo give me a public apology, attribution, and financial compensation for their unauthorized commercial use of my work as well as for the legal fees I am incurring in pursuing this matter. Inquiries: email@example.com @rixo @diet_prada @fashion.fakes @whowhatwear @whowhatwear.uk
"This brand emphasizes the originality and authenticity of their work. They claim that 'that every print would be painted—by hand—by the founders themselves at their London studio' (according to their website). Their allegedly original hand-painted prints seem to be a primary selling point for their brand," Feanne further reveals.
"There's an article that talks about how the Rixo print using artwork that appears identical to mine is a bestseller—they reprinted it season after season," she continues.
As an artist who has been publishing and exhibiting her work since 2006 and can prove her credibility via an extensive portfolio, comprehensive documentation of her transactions, and public profile, Feanne has understandably escalated the issue, deciding to take the discussion to social media where more people can be informed about its details.
She has similarly gotten in touch with British publications and online outlets to reach a wider audience. So far, Instagram account Diet Prada has posted a side-by-side comparison of Feanne and Rixo's designs to highlight their similarities.
The Instagram account with over one million followers is known for regularly calling out brands and designers for plagiarizing, inappropriate content, and other shame-worthy actions.
Image from @diet_prada
Image from @diet_prada
Image from @diet_prada
To date, Feanne's online revelations have caused a hailstorm of comments to be posted on Rixo's social media accounts—most, if not all, of which have unfortunately been deleted by the brand.
Feanne has also taken to Facebook to tell her story and provide other pertinent details to contribute to her case.
Only a few days have gone by since Feanne has alerted the public about this injustice, but we do hope the truth will prevail, in due time.
Cover and content images, styling, art direction, and hair by Tricia Gosingtian, makeup by Farrah Espina