Despite years of controversy and legal battles, Danielle Bernstein is still undeniable Instagram royalty: The fashion blogger has spun her more than 2.6 million followers into her own clothing label, tech startup, and New York Times best-selling book. But the social media mogul appears to have met her match with TikTok.
Bernstein—who has been repeatedly accused of ripping off smaller designers—officially joined the app on Thursday, with a self-aggrandizing video documenting her rise from lowly street-style blogger to mega-influencer. Almost immediately, the comment section was flooded with users dredging up the prior scandals. (Bernstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of design theft.)
“You forgot to mention you steal from small businesses and creators,” one user wrote, in one of the least vitriolic comments.
“Hi guys, my name is Danielle,” wrote another, parodying the tone of her video. “I started ripping off small creators pretty early on in my career, and little did I know just how far it’d get me.”
“Ohhhh you came to the wrong app,” wrote another.
And so on and so forth, for more than 3,800 comments.
Bernstein carried on—the TikTok version of “tweeting through it”—uploading four more videos over the next few hours: a behind-the-scenes look at her latest clothing collection, a roundup of her favorite mirror poses, a swimwear giveaway. One video received fewer than 6,000 “likes,” and nearly 16,000 comments.
A sixth video, since deleted, featured Bernstein lip-syncing to a tongue-in-cheek clip of Cardi B thanking her haters for boosting her profile.
In the comment section, however, Bernstein made it clear that she did not, in fact, want to thank her haters.
“Hiii Tiktok, I've spent the past 10 years building my career from the ground up and growing up in front of millions of people,” she wrote in the now-deleted post. “If you're coming to this page because you're waiting for me to talk about some baseless accusations created for 15 mins of fame, you're in the wrong place.”
“Blowing out someone's candle will not make yours shine any brighter! I've learned to laugh at the irrelevant BS,” she continued. “To anyone experiencing online bullying, I'm here for you and taking care of your mental health is priority.”
Bernstein has previously used allegations of “bullying” to distract from criticism of her allegedly stolen designs. Last summer, she uploaded a tearful Instagram story after commenters pointed out that her line of fashion masks was strikingly similar to those of a Latina designer whose products she had requested a month before. (Bernstein says she had started designing her own product before the request.) She previously called allegations that she stole designs for her 2018 jewelry line “devastating,” “vicious,” and “based on misrepresentations.”
Things came to a head in August when a small lingerie company accused Bernstein of stealing the print from its signature tissue paper. (Bernstein claims to have never seen it before.) In the midst of private negotiations, Bernstein filed a surprise suit against the lingerie company, attempting to block it from accusing her of trademark infringement. The lawsuit made national headlines, and also made Bernstein a villain in the eyes of many small-business supporters.
Just before Bernstein joined TikTok, another creator went viral on the app, accusing her of even more creative theft. The video, from a fashion blogger with a fraction of Bernstein’s following, accused her of stealing inspiration from two of her Instagram posts without proper credit. “As a small content creator, if she would have just put my name in the caption, that would change my life,” said the blogger, Kelsey Kotzur. “It’s just so unfair that she just keeps taking inspiration.”
A scroll through the #DanielleBernstein hashtag on TikTok shows other creators on the app are equally unimpressed with the influencer: One popular video shows a woman in a Bernstein-esque outfit strutting her way through a garden, beneath the text: “Danielle Bernstein on her way to steal small, minority designer’s ideas.” Several users have included her in their roundups of “problematic influencers.”
In the comments on her introductory video, users noted the visible lack of support for her TikTok debut.
“As you can see from your comment section, you are not welcome here…” one wrote. “Read the room sis.”
“I was coming here to say whose [sic] gonna tell her… but y’all definitely all already told her lmfao,” said another.
Another simply offered some advice: “STAY ON INSTAGRAM MS. CLOWN COUTURE.” The comment garnered more than 2,500 likes.