Shaun King recently launched his A Real One clothing line, which he describes as “a disruptive fashion company designed to completely change the supply chain from the seed to your closet,” but already he seems to be
stealing borrowing work from other organizations that actually have been involved in the industry he seeks to exploit next.
The image you see here is from a Gatsby Foundation report on the Tanzanian cotton and textiles sector, but it's being used uncredited on the A Real One website.
The results of an ONTD investigation are below!
After kebedes posted a comment in the post about Shaun King launching his A Real One clothing line pointing out that photos on his site are taken from "a BCI feature on Tata Djire about women's economic empowerment in Mali" and “a Gatsby Foundation report on the Tanzanian cotton and textiles sector,” I decided to reach out to BCI and the Gatsby Foundation to ask whether those photos were used with permission, and if their organizations were affiliated with King and his A Real One clothing line.
After asking, "Does he even have the right to use their photos or did he stay true to his scammer ways and steal those too?", kebedes noted, "As far as I can tell, there's no attribution and no mention of Mali, Tanzania, the organizations or the subjects anywhere on his site. Just a generic nod to black production and transparency, which is of course a known strong suit of his."
So what's the deal?
My correspondence to the Gatsby Foundation is as follows.
It was pointed out to me that a photo from the Gatsby site, specifically a report on the Tanzanian cotton and textiles sector (https://www.gatsby.org.uk/uploads/africa/reports/pdf/2020-tanzanian-cotton-textiles-highlights.pdf) is being used to promote A Real One clothing store launched by Shaun King (https://arealone.com).
However, I see no photo credit on the A Real One site or mention of an affiliation, even though other organizations are listed.
As someone who works in the media, I am sensitive to proper citations and giving credit where credit is appropriate.
Additionally, as a consumer, I try to be conscious and discerning about the brands I support, so I wanted to reach out and see if there is an affiliation between Gatsby and A Real One that just isn’t cited (yet) on the A Real One site.
Thank you for any assistance you can provide!
While I have not yet received a response from BCI, who I sent a similar message to, I did hear back from a representative of the Gatsby Foundation, who shared, “it’s a surprise to see an image of our cotton programme being used on the website.”
The full response I received from the Gatsby Foundation is below - emphasis theirs.
Hi [name redacted for privacy reasons],
We received your message about the use of one of our images on the A Real One clothing store.
Firstly, I want to say so thank you so much for taking the time to bring this to our attention, it is hugely appreciated!
We do not have any affiliation with A Real One clothing or Shaun King so it’s a surprise to see an image of our cotton programme being used on the website. We will be looking into the matter further in the coming weeks.
Thank you so much again for letting us know.
A similar message was sent to BCI with the appropriate links. While I have not heard back from BCI (which stands for the Better Cotton Initiative), I will point out that the photographer is cited on the BCI site, but there is no proper citation or indication of who took the photo or where it’s from on the A Real One site.
So what’s this mean?
But at the very least, if you launch a business saying you’re going to “interrupt the current supply chain for good” and that you’re going to “empower and employ Black farmers, designers, printers, and partners,” maybe don’t start off by not crediting the images of the farmers.
It doesn’t look good to claim you’re going to show “every single level of production” and have the first images you show on your site be ones you're using without permission.
P.S. While I did not look into this matter, in the original post about A Real One launching, neonguts commented, "I went to the site and crossed checked some of the 'certifications' the brand supposedly has by simply googling the certification’s website and searching if this brand is a member and…..yeah it’s not. It’s like they just googled all the best certifications to have and then just photoshopped them all together to put on the site to make themselves look good."
That also crossed my mind, but this was enough research for one day. I can confirm A Real One is not listed on the Fair Wear, Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, nor Canopy websites, which they claim to be a member of.
To be fair, although King is not deserving of the benefit of the doubt, that could be explained by those organizations not yet updating their websites.
As an end note, Canopy just issued a press release with 14 new brand partners on Sept. 15 and a press release announcing 400 new brands and retailers joining CanopyStyle, "a game-changing fashion and forest conservation initiative that is transforming the fashion industry’s viscose supply chain," on Sept. 16. Draw from that what you will.
A Real One website
My personal email