Target may have nailed nude lingerie and inclusive designer collaborations, but the ubiquitous suburban retailer that many lovingly call ‘Tarjay’ might have stepped out of bounds with one of its newest T-shirt designs. The company has been accused of appropriating the designs of Charli Cohen’s eponymous “ready to wear anywhere” British brand, which claims the conglomerate copied its “Dressed to Kale” T-shirt.
“Hey @Target! Funny story — we launched the Dressed to Kale tee in 2015. You must feel so big plagiarising a young designer,” the brand posted on Twitter late last week, along with side-by-side pictures of its shirt and Target’s version bearing the same slogan.
— CHARLI COHEN (@CharliCohen) May 4, 2017
The Charli Cohen tweet has since made the rounds on Twitter, receiving more than 300 retweets and inspiring supportive comments from the label’s followers.
— KP (@khyatiskitchen) May 4, 2017
— Cat Meffan (@CatMeffan) May 4, 2017
— Natalie Summers (@Natt_Summers) May 7, 2017
Charli Cohen went further still, by posting similar comparisons of the “Dressed to Kale” T-shirt in black alongside images of Target’s recently released version.
— CHARLI COHEN (@CharliCohen) May 7, 2017
“Instagram doesn’t lie about dates,” the brand writes, sharing its first reveal of the style in 2014, while also explaining to anyone questioning Target’s right to adopt the design, “we have trademarks.”
— CHARLI COHEN (@CharliCohen) May 7, 2017
Target did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo Style.
The Charli Cohen brand first became aware of Target’s suspiciously similar T-shirt last week when Cohen herself came across pictures of the copies on Twitter.
“I was searching for someone who had tweeted about our ‘Dressed to Kale’ tee and saw a load of people had posted these copies, having purchased them from Target,” she tells Yahoo Style. “The ‘Dressed to Kale’ tee is a signature design of ours and synonymous with the Charli Cohen brand since we launched this design in 2014. Target has already damaged the SEO and hashtags (
#dressedtokale) we’ve built around the slogan over three years, as well as devaluing our original design by flooding the market with their cheap copy.”
All of which has left Cohen feeling disheartened — but also motivated to fight back. “I can’t even begin to express the challenges of running an independent brand and starting it from nothing. The Charli Cohen brand only exists and continues to do so because we’ve been able to create something original. So to have a massive corporation do this to us is heartbreaking,” she explains. “We want to see the copy pulled from stores immediately and the damage to our brand addressed.”
Target, for its part, has replied to Cohen via Twitter, assuring the designer that they “take [her] concerns seriously” and encouraging her to email them with more information. (Cohen has.)
@CharliCohen We take your concerns seriously. Please send us an email to Target.Brands@Target.com with more information. Thanks.
— AskTarget (@AskTarget) May 4, 2017
Target also replied to other Twitter users who called the company out for its suspicious design by assuring them, “we have reached out to the designer and are currently looking into this.”
@monbf Thanks for reaching out to us. We have reached out to the designer and are currently looking into this.
— AskTarget (@AskTarget) May 5, 2017
This is not the first copycat design incident for the retail giant, however. In 2015, Target was accused of plagiarizing the #MERICA black tank design of Etsy shop owner Mel Lay. When friends of Lay spotted her #MERICA tank in Target stores across the country and informed the mother of two and small-business owner about their finds, she promptly visited her local Target store and posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing one of her hand screen-printed tanks while holding up the nearly identical Target version.
The post went viral, and Target responded by removing the shirt from store shelves and issuing a statement declaring its “deep appreciation for design.”
So if precedent means anything, Cohen may, in fact, get the response she wants from the retail giant. But only time will tell.
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