Ethik Clothing Plagiarizing Art for Pop-Up Promo? [Updated]

Posted on: April 2nd, 2012 at 6:09 am by

When we posted about pop-up newcomer Ethik Clothing Company at 243 Broome Street (aka 77 Ludlow) last week, little did we know there was a storm of controversy surrounding these purveyors of urban styles. Numerous readers chimed in about the company’s alleged, err, unethical practices which incited a comment war. Ethik is being accused of flagrantly plagiarizing the work of Berlin-based artist Jennifer Osborne to promote the brand. There’s little doubt after checking these photos.

This image has been archived or removed.

Most vocal in the ongoing argument is HandyGirl, a performance artist and environmental advocate. She sent in the following:

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Osborne

There is an artist named Jennifer Osborne, who produced a body of work for an exhibition. The show was called “Wig Out” and is quite well known. The subject matter for this show revolved around photographic images of the most marginalized women in Vancouver. These women live in the downtown east side, and have had extremely difficult lives. Many are drug addicted and/or prostitutes. Jennifer got to know them and developed trusting relationships with them. With this level of trust, the women agreed to have their photographs taken for the exhibition.

When an artist produces work, they own the copyright and are protected by law. For an individual or business to use an artists work, they need permission from the artist. Ethik Clothing Company took one of Jennifer Osborne’s images from her website and altered it. They then used it in advertising for their clothing line. This is blatent copyright infringement.

The image they stole was of a woman who has very clearly been the victim of violence. Ethik made posters of this image and plasterd New York City with them. Neither the artist nor the subject gave permission.

I find it disgusting that Ethik could do such a thing. What is even more unbelievable is that Ethik refuses to publicly acknowledge what they have done and apologize. Anyone who brings this up on the internet (i.e. Facebook) has their post deleted and they are blocked by Ethik from further comments. Additionally, when someone mentions the theft, they are called names and the issue is dismissed as unimportant.

It is my opinion that this company needs to take responsibility. I keep returning to the woman in the image. She has rights and she is being exploited for what? the sale of a few t-shirts?

The entire thing is disturbing.

UPDATE: Ethik responded with the following…

The image was taken off a 3rd party link that had no link, ownership, or claim to who it belonged to. We simply thought this was a public image and that it was available for use. Little did we know it was the work of an artist. we DID NOT take it for her website.  Also we have apologized to the artist several times and have agreed to halt posting anymore up and taking the flyer of our website which we have done. The flyer was posted in a few places in the LES area, so to say it was posted all over NYC is a little extreme.

Ethik Clothing is at 243 Bowery until next Sunday, April 8.

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