James Charles Is Latest Creator Accused Of Ripping Off Designs
After a summer of apologizing for pandemic parties, James Charles is kicking off fall with another scandal. This time, he’s been accused of ripping off his new “Sisters” merch, which uses a color block pattern that Ethan and Hila Klein, the couple behind the H3H3 podcast, says was copied from their own clothing line, Teddy Fresh.
“I know we didn't invent colorblocking but I'm having a hard time w the new james charles merch, it's the same exact design as Hila's,” Ethan wrote on Twitter Thursday evening. “Combined with the fact that his audience is so huge, many people will assume he designed it and start accusing us of plagarism [sic]. What do you think?”
Hila even provided early sketches of their designs from 2017.
I guess I might as well share some behind the scenes. This is my first sketch of the color block hoodie from 2017 before we had a logo for TF, and in the other pic is the pink one, this is usually how I work on our color pallets. https://t.co/5t7NrRC28P pic.twitter.com/mEhHq2cF8E— Hila Klein (@HilaKleinH3) September 18, 2020
Charles has denied the accusations, saying he’d “never seen” their brand and that Ethan did not respond when asked how they’d like to proceed.
“After last year, I vowed to keep conversations private and create solutions, not drama,” Charles added, referring to the giant blow-up between himself and fellow YouTube beauty guru Tati Westbrook.
In response, Ethan says Charles’s DMs were “combative and dismissive,” which prompted him to go public.
I give you permission to share our convo. You told me you were going to sell them anyway. You also admitted that the similarity wasn't a coincidence. I dm'd you because I wanted to keep this private but I found your response combative and dismissive. https://t.co/TGakaynFyw— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) September 18, 2020
Over the weekend, Kelin released full screenshots of their conversations, in which Charles acknowleges the similarities. Charles has not spoken on the issue furhter than his initial tweet, which is likely why Klein has escalated the issue to light trolling via memes.
James basically admits his team ripped of us but said it's fine because "we don't have the same fanbase or demographic". pic.twitter.com/LDuEkz7wy8— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) September 19, 2020
Big thank you to James Charles for wearing our colorblock hoodie! pic.twitter.com/znHtKjqNWI— Teddy Fresh (@teddyfresh) September 19, 2020
The internet seems divided on the dispute. Colorblocking has been a trend since at least 2010, so it’s hard for the Kleins to claim ownership of it. However, they have over two million subscribers on YouTube, so it’s not as if their merch wasn’t extremely public, especially to those in the internet creator space. Plus, large public figures “coincidentally” coming out with products similar to those by smaller designers has happened more than once these past few months.
Addison Rae’s beauty brand, Item Beauty, was accused of stealing its slogan—“I love you say it back”—from Lonely Ghost, which Item Beauty has denied. WeWoreWhat’s Danielle Bernstein was also accused of stealing her face mask design from Latina designer Karen Perez’s accessories brand Second Wind.
While the similarity between Charles and the Klein’s merch is likely just a coincidence, it should be common courtesy for creators to research their designs beforehand to make sure a similar product doesn’t already exist. After all, buying a creator’s merch is meant to signal a specific allegiance to a specific person. If your merch could be mistaken for someone else’s, then what was the point?
This post has been updated.