Did Lasula Just Steal This Iconic Feminist Design For A Pair Of Skinny Jeans?

The slogan was widely featured in the Women's Marches - we spoke to designer Shannon Downey...

Shannon Downey

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

When you look back at the women’s march and the signs that we’re displayed with so much passion and meaning, it can bring a tear to your eye. That was certainly the case for Shannon Downey, who created the iconic piece of art featuring the words ‘Boys will be boys' with 'boys' crossed out and replaced with 'held accountable for their fucking actions’. It was carried by thousands of people across America as a symbol of feminism and power and led Shannon to create a free design pattern so activists could stitch it themselves and wear it with pride.

Her intention with this was to create wearable art without profiting from it, because the commodification of feminism arguably demeans the message. However, one company has taken it upon themselves to profit from Shannon’s art, the high-street fashion brand Lasula.

You may know Lasula from Instagram, they create form fitting clothes that are promoted by all of your favourite reality-TV stars at a low price. Their jeans are emblazoned with ‘grl pwr’ (apparently, vowels are SO not trendy) and t-shirts ‘badass bitch’. Yet, despite seemingly pushing a feminist agenda, they also apparently steal art from young female artists and then offer pitiful solutions to rectify it.

The slogan ‘boys will be boys held accountable for their fucking actions’ has ‘inspired’ other brands before, according to Shannon, but this was ‘clearly the most egregious infringement’ she’s ever seen.

©Badass Cross Stitch

Embroidered onto a pair of skinny jeans with the description, ‘pair with a body suit and boots for the ultimate babe vibe’, the jeans were promoted by various other fashion bloggers before being called out for their stolen design and taken down. Lasula haven’t issued any sort of statement, they’ve simply taken down the product and social media posts and ‘disposed of the products’, Shannon told The Debrief.


‘I had a conversation with someone called Mike, that he started by apologising and then asking how they could make it right, to which I asked him “well how do you think this should be made right?”,’ she tells me, ‘he didn’t have any answers’.

Asking for a licensing agreement, which Shannon declined, then offering to give her ‘more credit’ (they had already included her name in the product description- despite making zero contact with her), to which she told them ‘I don’t want my art associated with your company’, they finally offered her $250 compensation, which she also declined. The conversation ended with him asking her to remove her Instagram posts about them, which she, in turn, declined.

For Shannon, this isn’t about money - she explains that she purposefully chose not to make a profit from the original design, because she is truly against the commodification of feminism.

‘I really don’t profit from a lot of my work because its designed to inspire other people to take action, to do something, to think about something differently, to put down their device and make art too,’ she continued, ‘this particular piece had so much meaning and so much outrage behind it, then to have it go so viral and have so many women connect to it and use it as the illustration for the really personal, really brave sharing of their metoo stories, to then commodify that and profit off of is just so gross to me, it’s the opposite of what I stand for’

Shannon is pursuing legal action, however what she really wants is to start a conversation about it - as is her intention with all of her art.

‘I want people to be thinking and talking about it, because I don’t think there are clear answers’, when it comes to plagiarism in the digital age, she tells me, ‘there are certainly some clear lines that get crossed, but I feel like digital and social media have really blurred who owns what and how we credit people.’

‘It’s incumbent upon all of us to be having these conversations in order to decide what is fair and what crediting the creator of something look like in this digital age,’ she continues, ‘I’ve heard so many times like “well everybody does it” and I’m like “okay, but should everybody do it?” and “what would it look like if we were doing this equitably and considering the person who created it?”’

It’s an important question, especially when it comes to political slogans that are often created with the intention not to profit, but to inspire, as was the case with Shannon. However, in highlighting her collision with Lasula we can hope to start a conversation, not just about how we credit digital art and consider smaller artists who so often are ignored when they speak up about plagiarism, but also the way that brands are profiting from feminist messages despite being oblivious to the cause.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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