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A designer worn by Cardi B and Doja Cat says mega-influencer Danielle Bernstein copied her skirt and plans to sell it at Macy's: 'She has some explaining to do'

  • Danielle Bernstein is a social media influencer whose fashion blog-turned-brand WeWoreWhat has 2.5 million followers on Instagram.
  • Bernstein has leveraged her large following to sell fashion lines at major retailers like Macy's. 
  • Most recently, the influencer announced that she would release a holiday collection with Macy's on Dec. 1.
  • But the designer behind Grayscale, a brand worn by stars like Cardi B and Ariana Grande, says that one piece from the collection, a patent leather skirt, was a blatant copy of her signature design.
  • Bernstein's counsel and Macy's both declined to comment on the allegation. 
  • Bernstein is already embroiled in a separate legal dispute with a Brooklyn-based lingerie brand, who also alleged that Bernstein took one of their designs and passed it off as her own. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Another independent designer is accusing mega-influencer Danielle Bernstein, whose blog-turned brand WeWoreWhat has 2.5 million followers on Instagram, of copying her signature design. 

Bernstein has leveraged her following as an influencer into collaborations and lines with multiple fashion brands, including Macy's. In early November, the influencer began posting previews of her holiday fashion line with the retail giant.

Then, on Sunday, designer Khala Whitney, whose fashion company Grayscale is known for bold, curve-accentuating silhouettes, began receiving a flood of messages on social media, Whitney told Business Insider. In message after message, people told her that one of Bernstein's pieces from her holiday collection — a black patent leather skirt with a corset top — was eerily similar to Whitney's signature design: a patent leather skirt with a corset top.

"She's got some explaining to do," Whitney said in an interview with Business Insider. "It crosses the line."

Bernstein and her brand WeWoreWhat have faced numerous accusations of copying designs in recent years. Most recently, the influencer was slapped with a lawsuit from a Brooklyn-based lingerie company, who said that WeWoreWhat copied their signature tissue paper design and used it to sell wallpaper, leggings, and other apparel. 

A post shared by Grayscale (@fromgrayscale)

Bernstein bought one of Whitney's skirts in 2017 and wore it to Paris Fashion Week, Whitney told Business Insider. The influencer wore the skirt in an Instagram post and highlighted it in a YouTube video, Whitney said. The post has been deleted, but a screenshot has circulated online. Bernstein's YouTube page no longer has any videos, but Whitney says a screenshot she posted shows Bernstein holding her skirt. 

"You asked about it. You inquired about it. You wore it. You posted it…. You can't even say that you had no idea," Whitney told Business Insider.

Whitney also shared with Business Insider a screenshot of a messaging conversation between her and Bernstein in February of 2017. Whitney advised Bernstein about sizing, and Bernstein replied that she placed an order, the screenshot shows. 

Whitney started her fashion line, Grayscale, in 2017.

"I built it from [the] ground up," Whitney told Business Insider. "I did it without help, without funding." 

The Houston native, who says she's all about "celebrating women's bodies," said she wanted to make a skirt that would tuck in stomachs and accentuate curves. The patent skirt was born and it quickly took off. Celebrities like Cardi B and Keke Palmer donned the piece, and orders skyrocketed, Whitney said. Trendy retailers Urban Outfitters and Dolls Kill started selling her skirts online.

"That piece is the piece that really catapulted my brand," said Whitney. The corset skirt took her "from the outside looking in to an overnight sensation," she said.

Over the past three years, Grayscale has continued to be a favorite among heavy hitters of the music world. Doja Cat wore one of Whitney's designs, a two-piece cow skin patterned number, in her viral music video "Mooo!" Ariana Grande wore a pink organza Grayscale jacket in her "Thank you, next" music video, and Megan Thee Stallion has worn the brand too.

Read more: Luxury fashion is surging on TikTok, but turning Gen-Z viewers into customers is a complicated task for brands

Whitney said that she was shocked by Bernstein's "audacity and nerve," adding that she hoped Bernstein would take accountability for her actions. She says she hopes Macy's will recognize that the design belongs to her, especially given Macy's recent commitment to elevating Black designers like herself. 

Macy's announced in October that it would be launching lines with Black creators to "celebrate Black excellence" and "amplify black brands."

"Let's think about what's going on in 2020. Especially for Black people. Let's read the room a little bit," Whitney said. 

Bernstein's counsel and Macy's both declined to comment on the allegation. 

Bernstein's Holiday collection is scheduled to launch at Macy's Dec. 1. 

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