Last week, Jezebel reported on a jean jacket decorating party hosted by Harper’s Bazaar, where celebrities like Olivia Wilde and Aurelie Bidermann affixed patches to jean jackets in celebration of generally empowering female camaraderie.
But, the patches used for that party have an unsavory provenance. Jezebel reported on one of the available designs, an image made by Leste Magazine’s Sara Sutterlin reading, “WHEN WOMEN SPEAK IT IS MOSTLY POETRY,” that was turned into a patch without credit or compensation until Sutterlin launched a dogged social media campaign for retroactive payment. It turns out that the saga of the Patch Party goes much deeper than we thought: at least three other patches were manufactured without Harper’s Bazaar notifying or paying their original artists. These wealthy women are wearing jackets festooned with stolen work.
Emma McIlroy, CEO of Wildfang, a fashion brand for “badass women,” told Jezebel that Harper’s Bazaar reached out to her about placing an order for several pins for that same jean jacket decorating party back in October, and they eventually ordered 75 copies of two different pins—one depicting a manicured hand lifting a weight, one depicting a fist, and another reading, “Yas Kween.” But McIlroy was alarmed to see, in a photograph of the patch selection that night, their WILD FEMINIST design had been turned into a patch (the black square at the bottom left corner of the image above)—especially since she had explicitly offered that design in pin form to Harper’s Bazaar during their initial interaction.
In an email provided to Jezebel dated October 14, 2016, McIlroy explicitly offers to sell Harper’s Bazaar the WILD FEMINIST pin (which was not available online at the time) at a discount and attaches a photograph of it in her email to the magazine.
So lovely to hear from you. I can absolutely help. We can offer you 20% discount on anything you need and I’ll cover expedited shipping fees. If you want to buy any of the pins below i can offer a bigger discount (30%), because we make them and they have a bigger margin:
We also have a new FEMINIST pin (attached is artwork, looks much better in person) which I could sell you (30% discount) — it’s not online yet but in a week or so.
So - just let me know:
- what quantities of each pin you want
- when it needs to arrive
Also if you wanted to buy our famous WILD FEMINIST tee i’d be happy to offer that at 40% discount, because we want as many people wearing them as possible!! Just depends on how many and how soon you need them.
Would love to help!!
After a bit of back-and-forth, the Harper’s Bazaar representative, Marketing Associate Vilma Diaz responds on October 17, 2016 with the following email, with no mention of the WILD FEMINIST pin.
We’ll proceed with the order below:
70 YAS KWEEN
50 Women Who Lift
25 Feminist Fist
Could you please send through the confirmed total for this order?
But, in a photograph of the event posted initially by the New York Observer and further circulated by Get Artists Paid, you can clearly see the WILD FEMINIST pin design made into a patch.
“That’s super interesting, because we never made a patch,” McIlroy told Jezebel on a phone call on Friday. “Even though the artwork is identical to ours, and the artwork is identical to the artwork that I attached in the email to Harper’s Bazaar offering them our pin, I know that we didn’t produce this because we never made a patch.”
McIlroy told Jezebel that she reached out to a representative asking for an explanation, hopeful that she could explain to her numerous Instagram followers who had noticed the patch what had happened. “There must be something I’m missing here,” she said. She soon received the following email, a copy of which was also provided to Jezebel:
We have gone through our files and discovered that the artwork was created inadvertently by an intern.
Please accept our apologies for recreating the referenced artwork without proper credit. This was an unfortunate oversight on our part and by no means done intentionally. We are quite stringent with protecting the rights of artists’ work in all forms when reproduced by the publication and would like to offer payment for the usage.
“I went back and I said, look, I’m not interested in being paid for this,” McIlroy told Jezebel. “This was not our agreement. Our agreement was to help you guys out and offer a discount, which we did, and our agreement was never to license you our most famous mark. All I want from you guys is an apology, all I want is a public apology on social media because our concern is that, as with any kind of trademark or copyright infringement, confusion now exists in the marketplace, and there is confusion as to who owns that mark and who created it.”
A Harper’s Bazaar representative responded, saying they didn’t have the authority to use social channels for an apology, but if McIlroy wanted to speak with Hearst lawyers, they could put them in touch.
“When Wildfang makes a mistake, I, as the CEO, get on those channels and apologize and own it. It just didn’t feel right. Again, this is opinion, not fact, but I’m not sure whether I believe their answer, because to say that it was done without knowledge when I actually forwarded you my artwork just doesn’t feel totally accurate.”
In Jezebel’s previous post on the jean jacket decorating party, an Instagram comment from The Wing explains that Harper’s Bazaar “made patches out of all our Instagram posts as a surprise for the event.” The WILD FEMINIST image has never been posted on The Wing’s Instagram account.
Using the photograph of the patch selection posted on Instagram by Get Artists Paid, Jezebel has identified two additional patches that were made without the artist’s permission or knowledge for the event. The first is a collage made by artist and art director Lotte Andersen, who at one point adapted her design for an Adidas Stellasport zine:
In an email to Jezebel, Andersen confirmed that she received, “no compensation, no credit, no warning,” from Harper’s Bazaar.
“Its outrageous, disgraceful, and ultimately disrespectful—one thing to ask permission to reprint, quite another to make into a patch and slap all over your launch,” she wrote, noting that she has no interest in the women who attended the event wearing her work (“they are not ambassadors for my intention”).
“That print was made for a specific project, which I creative directed for Adidas and Stella McCartney—the language on the poster specifically refers to the diverse group of young women I cast to front the campaign.”
The design was posted on The Wing’s Instagram account, uncredited, in April 2016.
The other design is a white ribbon reading “GIRL GANG” on a pink background. The image was designed by Madison Kramer, a 22-year-old master’s student in Visualization in September 2013 for a playlist that she posted online. She also posted the image to her Tumblr.
Kramer expressed shock that the image had been used by Harper’s Bazaar, and also said no one had contacted her for permissions. This image has not been posted on The Wing’s Instagram.
Harper’s Bazaar and Hearst have not responded to Jezebel’s multiple requests for comment.