Ariana Grande is suing Forever 21 for allegedly using or mimicking her likeness in a marketing campaign the popstar had previously refused to appear in.
The star’s legal team are seeking damages of at least $10m for false endorsement, and trademark and copyright infringement.
Lawyers say Forever 21 approached Ariana Grande late last year to be part of a marketing campaign promoting the retailer’s latest lines, which she declined.
Instead, the lawsuit alleges, the fast-fashion retailer employed lookalikes of the singer, allusions to her music videos and lyrics from her songs in a series of social media posts, “clearly” designed "to suggest to the viewing public that Ms Grande endorsed Forever 21, its products and was affiliated with Forever 21.”
Posts on Forever 21’s Instagram early this year depicted a model who bears a striking resemblance to Grande – complete with her signature high ponytail – wearing outfits seen in the 7 Rings video, which has been viewed more than half a billion times. The posts were captioned with lyrics from the same song, including “Gee thanks, I bought it!”
Forever 21 disputes the allegations.
The suit comes as the retail group, which operates more than 800 stores globally, deals with internal struggles and recent reports that it could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Last year Forever 21 was accused of whitewashing, after using white models to promote a fashion collection tied to Marvel’s Black Panther – a movie featuring primarily black actors, and which had a attracted a large following from black communities.
It later dropped the imagery and social media posts, issued an apology saying: “We celebrate all superheroes with many different models of various ethnicities”.