A global pandemic isn’t enough to stop fashion influencers from knocking off indie creators, or so it seems. Case in point: WeWoreWhat founder Danielle Bernstein is currently under fire for allegedly stealing a mask design from the small, patent-pending Latina-owned brand By Second Wind.
On Wednesday, Diet Prada, the fashion industry’s favorite watchdogs, posted a series of screenshots depicting a DM conversation between Bernstein and By Second Wind, presumably “creator and sole employee” Karen Perez, in which Bernstein is shown asking for two of By Second Wind’s signature masks with removable chains, dated June 29. Three days later, on July 2, Bernstein apparently sent By Second Wind yet another private message, this time announcing she was “also making masks with a detachable chain—similar to the sunglass chains” she owned, and therefore didn’t want her to think she was “copying” their design. “Masks are a different shape too,” she concludes.
Diet Prada also provided a side-by-side image of the masks, writing, “...they’re nearly identical, from the linen fabrication down to the unique loop design at the sides to hold the chain... but at least there’s one bright side. After her carefree summer galavanting around the Hamptons, Danielle is finally wearing a mask.”
Take a look:
Perez told Page Six, “I was really excited she liked our masks, I started it two weeks after the pandemic. I literally put my blood sweat and tears into it… she reached out to me to support me, why didn’t she tell me she was working on the same thing? She used the same kind of chain and the same fabric, and colors as me, that really upset me. When I saw her masks I was heartbroken… I am fed up, for me—as a woman and a minority… I have to stand up for myself. She’s a phony, she stands up for minorities, but she’s ripping us off, thinking we only have a tiny voice.”
Not long after Diet Prada’s post made the rounds, Bernstein uploaded her Instagram story, claiming that she had been working on masks with a chain since May, and therefore did not steal By Second Wind’s design. “Hey guys, so this has gotten a bit out of hand because I’m now getting death threats, which is really scary and not cool. And so I wanted to let you know I started the process of creating masks on May 19, and I’m going to share the email that proves that,” she said. “Second Wind had reached out to me three times in June before we actually got in touch on June 29. I really love her masks and think you guys should still support her. A chain on a mask is not an original concept and I’ve never claimed for that to be my own. I think that the point of all this is that we’re still in a pandemic and we’ve created these masks to not only protect ourselves, but others around us, and we can’t loose sight of that.”
Here’s the email:
It appears as though she’s included a screenshot of an email and a few designs laid on top of it. While it’s unclear when those designs were drafted, it is clear that she was at least conceptualizing a mask design in May, so make of that what you will.