Over the weekend, Cara Delevingne posted a photo on Instagram, wearing a sweatshirt with "The Future Is Female" printed across the front. While it isn't the first time she's worn a top featuring the slogan, it is the first time she is selling them herself.
Now, she's being accused of ripping off the design from LA-based company Otherwild.
According to The New York Times, the feminist slogan comes from a t-shirt created for Labyris Books, the first women's bookstore in New York City. In 1975, photographer Liza Cowan took a photo of her girlfriend, Alix Dobkin, wearing the shirt. Then, in 2015, it appeared on Herstory, an Instagram dedicated to "Herstoric Lesbian Imagery," and was seen by Rachel Berks, who owns Otherwild.
Berks remade the shirt and sold it, with 25% of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Among the shirt's early fans was Cara Delevingne—she was seen wearing it in October. The version she's selling, however, is not from Otherwild and 25% of its proceeds go to Girl Up, a United Nations campaign.
While the slogan did not originate with Otherwild, the redesign, according to Berks, is protected under copyright law. In an email to MTV News, Berks writes:
Otherwild's redesign and reissue of the FIF tees and buttons is protected under copyright law, which mandates that any reproduction of an existing known public work must be altered at least 20% from the original. If model/actress Cara Delevingne wanted to sell my line, she would need to wholesale them from Otherwild, and because we donate 25% of our line's proceeds to Planned Parenthood, Delevingne's ethical practice would benefit not only our woman-owned small business but would also serve as a significant donation to PP. Delevingne could also choose not to wholesale from Otherwild and create her own design of the slogan on clothing to sell. But Delevingne's choice to lift and manufacture Otherwild's design, claiming it as her own to sell with an undisclosed charitable offering, is indefensible. Her actions ironically counter the very message of the slogan "The Future Is Female", and it's confounding that she would do this to a small queer feminist-owned business after purchasing the product from us just a few weeks ago. Although under pressure, Delevingne has changed the line's attribution several times in the past 24 hrs., she has not yet offered to wholesale from us nor cease and desist blatantly copying and selling our designs.
Though Cara has edited the caption to shout-out Liza Cowan, Otherwild, and Herstory, she is still selling her version of the sweatshirt on Represent for $39.99. MTV News has reached out to Cara and her team, but hasn't heard back at press time.
Considering the charitable intent behind both shirts, it is deeply unfortunate a controversy has erupted around them—hopefully Otherwild and Cara can reach an agreement soon and continue to champion women and girls worldwide. You can donate directly to Planned Parenthood and Girl Up on their websites.