Gorman founder Lisa Gorman has finally issued a statement after being accused of stealing designs from 20-year-old Indigenous artist Aretha Brown. 

“So Gorman has stolen some of my designs and made a five-piece collection out of them,” Brown wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post on Saturday.

“Thanks big brands for always supporting young Indigenous artists!”

The designs in question are part of the brand’s Night Light line, which Brown claims bear a striking resemblance to her own artwork.

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Brown’s designs (L), Gorman (R).

Both Brown and Gorman’s designs feature black and white silhouettes of buildings and other architectural elements. However, while Brown clearly uses her art as part of her activism and position as a voice in the Indigenous community, Gorman’s prints do not appear to have a deeper message.

When approached by PEDESTRIAN.TV, founder Lisa Gorman denied the accusations.

“I totally deny Aretha Brown’s accusation,” she said in a statement provided to P.TV.
“On Monday, I reached out to her and invited her in to sight our original artwork. Aretha removed her Instagram posts on Monday. She is yet to reply, however, the invitation still stands.”

However, this isn’t the first time the brand (which is owned by Factory X – the major fashion company behind Dangerfield, Princess Highway, Jack London and Alannah Hill) has been accused of ripping off smaller designers and artists.

Back in 2016, Sydney fabric designer Elouise Rapp accused the brand of copying her silk scarf designs, telling the ABC that it’s “quite scary” to say something to a large company like Factory X.

“It’s really hard to protect your designs, a lot of lawyers suggest registering your designs which is quite a laborious, expensive route which generally you don’t go down because you expect your design ideas to be kept as your own content,” she said at the time.

Rapp’s designs (L), Gorman (R). Image via ABC.

Of course, the company categorically denied any wrongdoing.

In the same year, New York artist Amber Ibarreche claimed the company had copied a piece of artwork she illustrated for their geology collection, pointing out the unmistakable similarities between her print and Gorman’s fabric.

Ibarreche’s print (L), Gorman design (R). Image via ABC.

But again, Gorman denied having ever seen Ibarreche’s print and put it down to coincidence.

Melbourne jewellery designer Emily Green had a similar experience, claiming that a pair of her earrings were allegedly copied by the brand. However, she never took legal action.

“There’s so much creative capital in Melbourne, I feel like the positive way to draw on that is to collaborate with the artist and acknowledge them,” Green told the ABC.

Green’s design (L), Gorman design (R). Image via ABC.

Once again, Gorman denied the allegation.

Further similarities can be seen between Gorman’s ‘seashore linen’ collection from 2019 and Rebecca Atwood’s 2017 ‘Tidal Wave’ fabric, along with multiple other accusations of the company allegedly copying the work of independent designers.

Rebecca Atwood (L), Gorman (R). Image via Gorman Outfit of the Day.

When it comes to fashion, copyright law gets *really* complicated, and it’s worth noting that Gorman has categorically denied any wrongdoing in every allegation I have found. But to the naked eye, there are at least some striking similarities here.

Pedestrian.TV is not alleging that any of the similarities outlined above are a result of stealing or copyright by Lisa Gorman or Factory X.