The top retailer in the world has a dirty little secret --  and it's spiraling out of control

Zara is the world’s leading retailer.

Analysts have said that the Spanish fast-fashion brand has the “best business model in apparel.”

After all, it has a speedy supply chain that churns out runway-inspired designs at wallet-friendly prices, making it a critical destination for frugal but fashionable millennial shoppers.

But does the magic stop there?

The company came under fire last week for allegedly ripping off designs from an independent designer, Tuesday Bassen.

She recently posted the photo to Instagram to illustrate the problem. She admitted, though, that she’s at at loss, because “as awful as it is that Zara have clearly stolen these designs, the cartoon style and slight changes made by Zara would make it difficult to prove this is plagiarism in court.”

Still, many people have rallied behind her, furious at the company’s pattern of taking designs from other people.

An Instagram account called Shoparttheft points out lots of instances of Zara’s egregious pattern of “borrowing” from other artists.

It’s been created in order to help support artists.

“The sheer volume of @zara’s intellectual property theft this year is stunning. This is not a coincidence. This is a blatant disregard for copyright law and the original work of independent artists worldwide,” the post below reads.

Over 1,000 people have liked the post above.

The drama started last week when Bassen tweeted the following, highlighting the problem:

All of this was reportedly without consulting with Bassen first — or even paying her, she wrote on Twitter:

She said that Zara claims that her work is “simple,” but she wants to be paid if the company is going to be using her work:

Bassen wrote that Zara’s lawyers claimed that, since she was an independent artist and the retailer is a huge company, her argument was essentially lost:

She wrote that she plans to press charges, but that fighting Zara has already been costly:

Bassen, however, pointed out that this is something that can happen to a lot of artists — but often, they don’t have the funds to defend themselves and their work:

Many people came to Bassen’s defence, with thousands retweeting her complaints against the company, and some even making timely statements about stealing others’ work:

But all of this is nothing new.

In 2012, the company came under fire for reportedly ripping off New York street designer Patrick Waldo, The Huffington Post reported. And in 2014, Sibling called out the brand for stealing from its designs, too, Dazed reported.

Earlier this year, many people blatantly called out the company for its Yeezy-esque line. But Bassen’s plight demonstrates that taking cues from an independent designer can be a different ballpark from impersonating the work of a high-end, wealthy designer.

Of course, in the fast-fashion world, there’s a fine line between taking inspiration from a designer and blatantly stealing. After all, the central defining factor of fast-fashion companies like Zara is that they take cues from the runway, but “cues” may be the operative word here.

The problem isn’t unique to Zara. Forever 21 has also come under fire for similarly shady practices.

Zara didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

NOW WATCH: The one reason Zara is dominating the fashion industry right now

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