Ariana Grande sues Forever 21 for using 'look-alike model'

Ariana Grande is suing the fashion label Forever 21, claiming the retailer endeavoured to trick customers into thinking Grande was affiliated with the brand by using a "strikingly similar" model.

Grande, 26, claims the fashion brand appropriated imagery from her '7 Rings' music video and referenced the pop song for their Instagram campaign without permission.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Los Angeles' Federal District Court (local time), also revolves around a Grande "look-alike model" used in Forever 21's advertising. The brunette model's sleek, high ponytail and attire have been likened to Grande's style in the '7 Rings' clip. 

"The resemblance is uncanny," the lawsuit said, according to the New York Times.

"Forever 21's intent was clear: to suggest to the viewing public that Ms Grande endorsed Forever 21, its products, and was affiliated with Forever 21."

Following the release of the star's hit song 'Thank U, Next' last year, the brand approached Grande's representatives with the suggestion of a social media endorsement deal. The offer was eventually declined due to a pay dispute, as a single Instagram upload by the singer is worth "well into the six figures,'' says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Grande contacted her lawyers in February after noticing the campaign imagery. Although Forever 21 agreed to remove all unauthorised posts from social media, the images remained on their Instagram platform until mid-April.

In a statement released on Tuesday (local time), Forever 21 said it supports the pop star and despite contesting the allegations, the brand hopes to work with Grande in the future.

Another example of similarities.
Another example of similarities. Photo credit: Left: Ariana Grande/Vevo; Right: Forever 21/Instagram

The lawsuit accuses the retailer of violating Grande's right to publicity, referring to the hitmaker's control over commercial uses of her name and identity. It also alleges trademark infringement, false endorsement and copyright infringement.

Grande has sued the company for at least US$10 million (NZ$15.7 million) in damages.

A number of experts have weighed in on the case, with one professor telling the New York Times that Forever 21 using photos of Grande for the purpose of advertising seemed the most legally problematic.

The lawsuit alleges that the brand was looking for a way to boost its social media while struggling to compete with online fashion retailers. Bloomberg reported last week that the company, founded in 1984, is currently preparing for a potential bankruptcy filing.


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