The Case Against Kylie Jenner: Beauty Mogul Accused of Ripping Off Makeup Line
The reality starlet turned beauty mogul is being sued by Sheree Cosmetics for allegedly ripping off its ‘Born to Sparkle’ makeup line. It’s par for the course for the Kardashians.
Kylie Jenner and her eponymous makeup line Kylie Cosmetics have come under fire yet again for allegedly copying designs from an indie makeup company—and are now being sued by the company in question, Sheree Cosmetics, for unspecified damages, TMZ reports.
The suit, which was filed today in federal court, claims that Kylie Cosmetics ripped off Sheree Cosmetics’ “Born to Sparkle” makeup line— including an eyeshadow palette with 15 glittery shades—and name when they released their latest collection, also entitled “Born to Sparkle,” this August. Per DailyMailTV, Kylie released her “Born to Sparkle” collection, complete with several glittery liquid eyeshadows, on August 6; even though Sheree Cosmetics filed the trademark for their “Born to Sparkle” tagline and collection on August 30, the company claims their palette has been available since October of 2017.
Most of Kylie’s “Born to Sparkle” collection has, predictably, sold out, especially after she posted a photo of herself to Instagram sporting some “Born to Sparkle” eyeshadow. While the similarities to Sheree Cosmetics’ makeup collection are undeniably present in Kylie Cosmetics’ version—the name, for starters, as well as the formula, seem awfully similar to that of Sheree Cosmetics— this isn’t the first time that Kylie (or any of the Kardashian sisters, really) have been accused of ripping off lesser-known indie designers (often women of color) for their own hugely popular makeup and fashion lines.
Way back in 2017, Kylie released a camo-themed collection of clothing on her online store that quickly came under fire for its, uh, similarity to New York brand Plugged NYC’s collection of camo bikinis, crop tops and pants. Plugged, which was started by Tizita Balemlay in 2016, is no stranger to hip Hollywood types—Jenner herself has even been photographed wearing pieces from the brand. It’s not a stretch to assume that Jenner was inspired, at the very least, by the brand, even if she didn’t out-and-out plagiarize them.
In November 2016, Kylie Cosmetics shared an image of dripping metallic lips on Instagram, ostensibly to promote their new metallic lipstick. The only problem? The image was actually the work of makeup artist Vlada Haggerty, who subsequently called out the youngest Kardashian and her makeup company. Eventually, the image was edited to mention that it was “inspired by” Haggerty, then subsequently deleted. The photo got a lot of people noticing how similar Kylie Cosmetics’ signature, dripping-wet lip logo was to Haggerty’s own makeup looks, which also featured an excess of product. But Kylie was not to be deterred—and soon after shared a promo photo for Kylie Cosmetics’ holiday collection that’s pretty damn identical to a concept shared by Haggerty several months before.
In an interview with Refinery29 in the midst of the brouhaha, Haggerty deftly summarized the struggles many indie cosmetics and fashion designers face while trying to make it in a ruthless industry. “Crediting artists is essential, but this goes beyond that,” she said of Kylie Cosmetics’ alleged plagiarism. “It’s theft; this is our livelihood... I see these things happen too many times to artists. We are all trying to make it, and this business is extremely competitive. I would ask anyone at this level use the proper channels to obtain images.”
More recently, both Kylie and sister Kendall Jenner came under fire for using images of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls in their controversial T-shirt collection that dropped last summer. The sisters were sued by photographer Michael Miller for their unauthorized use of his photo of Tupac on a T-shirt and the two parties eventually settled; and after Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, took to Instagram to call out the sisters on their exploitative use of her son’s likeness, the sisters pulled the Biggie shirts and issued an apology.
The trend of ripping off small, independently-owned makeup and clothing brands—often owned and operated by women of color—is hardly unique to the Kardashians. While it’d take too long to list all of the celebrities profiting off of other people’s creativity, a similar example occurred in August when former Disney darling Bella Thorne decided to release her own makeup and accessory line called Filthy Fangs. The collection, which features several brightly-colored eyeshadow palettes, originally came under fire for being overpriced—but soon, fans noticed that the palettes bore an eerie resemblance to those sold by WOC-owned makeup line Juvia’s Place.
Thorne, for her part, didn’t seem too bothered by the allegations, tweeting, “I betu [sic] we have the same manufacturer.im suppose to look up every pallet ever made? How dare some1 else have a purple that looks like mine;),” and subsequently tweeted a link to another palette from Juvia’s Place poking fun at the controversy:
Chichi Eburu, the African-born owner of Juvia’s Place, handled the situation with grace, saying in a statement to Teen Vogue, “Yes, there are some similarities across every spectrum but we need to keep pushing forward. It’s unacceptable, seems like Bella’s team members didn’t do enough research. Hopefully, they learn from this experience and move forward shining. We wish them the very best of luck.”
Kylie has yet to issue a statement on her most recent lawsuit, but given her track record with accusations of plagiarism, this isn’t that surprising. Kylie’s just the latest in a long line of celebrities using their clout and immense social capital to keep their lucrative makeup and clothing ventures afloat—all at the expense of lesser-known indie designers, who’ve often made their collections their life’s work. Now’s the time to uplift these smaller businesses—and not let them fall victim to Kardashian kapitalism.