Amira Rasool, owner of The Folklore, an online platform for African apparel and accessories, got some swift response to her complaint that Taylor Swift was offering merchandise bearing “The Folklore Album” label accompanying her new album, “Folklore,” which Rasool claimed was causing confusion in the marketplace.
When Rasool first got wind of the merchandise’s label when the album was released last Friday, she gasped. “I was so surprised and so shocked and it was really devastating. I saw it happen to small Black business owners, and I was really sad,” she said. She had her lawyers at Fenwick & West reach out to Swift’s team to let them know about the similarity in the logo design and how it was causing confusion in the market. Rasool said she had already received an e-mail from one of Swift’s fans inquiring about the album’s digital download.
“The main thing was having ‘The Folklore’ when the album was just called ‘Folklore,'” Rasool said. She also believes there was similarity to the way the word “the” in the logo was vertically placed. She said if one Googles “The Folklore,” Rasool’s logo comes up, and she feels Swift’s people would have seen that. Swift is making sweatshirts and merchandise, along with a cardigan that ties in with one of her songs.
Rasool said Swift’s team responded immediately, they had a few conversations Monday and said they would remove the word “The” on all the merchandise. A look at Swift’s web site shows all the label tags now read “Folklore Album.” Rasool also said she was in conversations with them “about next steps.” Rasool’s lawyer, Eric Ball of Fenwick & West, couldn’t be reached Tuesday for comment.
A statement from 13 Management, Swift management company, said, “Yesterday, we were made aware of a complaint that the specific use of the word ‘the’ before ‘Folklore album’ on some of the Folklore album merchandise was of concern. Absolutely no merchandise using ‘the’ before the words “Folklore Album” has been manufactured or sent out. In good faith, we honored her request and immediately notified everyone who had ordered merchandise with the word ‘the’ preceding ‘Folklore Album,’ that they will now receive their order with the design change.”
What else is Rasool looking for them to do?
“Right now I’m leaving that up to the lawyers. I commend them for removing that, but I think there’s a larger conversation that needs to be had,” she said.
The Folklore, a New York-based web site that received its trademark in 2018, features more than 30 designers from Africa and the diaspora and serves as a cultural hub for contemporary brands, artists and creates to showcase their personal stories. Most of the fashion, accessories and homewares are handmade by local artisans based in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Cote D’Ivoire. In addition to operating as an online concept store, The Folklore also provides wholesale services to African designer brands interested in penetrating the global retail market.
“It’s not just damaging to one Black woman, it’s all the brands that we work with,” Rasool said. All of her web site’s merchandise says “The Folklore” on its hangtags, but the actual designer’s name is on the inside label. Rasool said she eventually plans to make merchandise with “The Folklore” label.
Rasool said Swift’s fans were attacking her on Twitter for speaking out “and calling me b—h and a liar.”
“She [Taylor] has stood up and defended her trademarks before. She’s a big proponent of people standing up and speaking out. For me to be attacked and say I’m doing this for attention…,” she said. People on Twitter were vehement, saying there was no similarity in the logo’s design. But the name is the same.
“I think there was a lot of damage to my brand for me speaking out. I don’t think I deserved that,” Rasool said.
She said Swift’s team has been really cooperative. Rasool declined comment on whether there was any monetary compensation.