Instagram's role in Creative Theft


Written by Dan Haze
30 Monday 30th October 2017

Instagram is an amazing thing; constant scrolling creates constant innovation, each page creates its own individual community and no one can argue the conflation of creativity and the Gram. We’ve seen great collaborations born from Instagram with designers and young creatives however, some more established brands and figures see the platform as a catalogue to take ideas from without consent.

DIRTY $OUTH is a young collective, founded by Nikolina Tomic. Finding their inspiration on the streets of South London, the aptly named brand creates streetwear that hopes to inspire the youth, no matter what ends you come from, to create art and magic, follow their hearts and chase their dreams. Dirty $outh aspires to bring communities together and to open the minds of people to different styles, cultures and music. 

Wanting their designs to be seen by a wider audience and believing that Migos would appreciate their line and what it stands for, Nikolina reached out to their Creative Director on Instagram asking if she could send some of their products to them they replied with a shipping address to send the clothes to. A week later, someone sent a screenshot of pop up shops in Australia presenting themselves as "Dirty $outh" to Nikolina. After some research, they found that it was Migos’ team creating and selling stolen Dirty $outh designs. Nikita’s post on instagram about the issue received hundreds of likes and comments of support.  

We went to Nikolina for comment “Why I made such a big deal out of it is not just because they stole MY brand name, I do it for every other young creative out here that are getting their shit stolen on a daily basis. It happens all the time and they do it do small independent brands that don't have such a big influence and following yet, so they think it will go unseen! no, someone needs to raise their voice”. The issue has hopefully been resolved, with Migos' creative director assuring Nikolina that it won't happen again. Yet it is still noteworthy as the use of the brand could affect DIRTY $OUTH's future business. 

Unfortunately, fashion designs aren’t protected by copyright law, therefore knockoff merchandise abounds and there have been countless examples of creative theft by multi-national brands. Zara has been accused of stealing independant artists’ creations on multiple occasions yet because they have endless legal counsel they may never be held accountable.

Of course, it is a given that art and especially fashion is a cyclical entity, mainly made up of influence and reimagining. However, there is a difference between influence and theft. When huge brands take ideas from less established artists or labels they are not encouraging creativity they are inhibiting it. We need to champion young creatives and make sure they are protected from being taken advantage off. If larger brands, especially fashion houses are not at the forefront of ideas then we will come to a point where new voices are never given a platform to be heard.




Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.