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Some fashion-industry insiders allege a mega-influencer’s retail empire is bolstered by stolen designs

A new investigation from Insider reveals the inner workings of influencer Danielle Bernstein’s retail empire.



Danielle Bernstein posing for the camera: Interviews with 26 fashion-industry professionals suggest that influencer Danielle Bernstein is testing the limits of copyright law. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Hollis Johnson/Insider; Samantha Lee/Insider


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Interviews with 26 fashion-industry professionals suggest that influencer Danielle Bernstein is testing the limits of copyright law. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Hollis Johnson/Insider; Samantha Lee/Insider

Some fashion professionals who have worked with the 28-year-old designer are speaking out about a pattern of behavior that flouts industry norms against imitation – and risks running afoul of copyright law.

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The designer’s clothing lines have been sold by Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and other leading retailers. But since 2018, Bernstein – whose Instagram account WeWoreWhat has 2.5 million followers – has been publicly accused of copying nine times.

Insider uncovered three additional unreported allegations of copying against Bernstein and her partner company Onia. Five Onia employees said that Bernstein has taken sample items of clothing to her designers and pushed them to imitate pieces under her name. Onia and Bernstein deny these allegations.

Some small businesses that have called out Bernstein have been met with threats and legal action. A seller on Poshmark, an online marketplace of second-hand clothing, who accidentally posted unreleased pieces from Bernstein said the influencer threatened to use her connections to shut down her online storefront. 

Several fashion insiders also described Bernstein as a capricious and controlling boss. “We always try to never directly copy,” a current Onia designer who has worked with Bernstein told Insider. “Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, she gets what she wants.”

“It wasn’t really a top priority for people to double-check to make sure prints were not being ripped off,” said a former Onia employee.

When Insider contacted Bernstein’s team for comment, a spokesperson shared a statement on behalf of Onia.

“The accusations that are being described by Business Insider, detailing ‘interviews’ that former or current Onia employees allegedly gave, are categorically false,” the statement said in part. “This article, designed to paint Onia and Danielle Bernstein in an abhorrent way, is antithetical to what Onia and WeWoreWhat stand for.”

Do you have a tip you want to share? Contact Rachel Premack via encrypted email ([email protected]) or on the encrypted messaging app Signal (313-632-8232).

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