By now you may be aware of the shitstorm surrounding a t-shirt sold at Urban Outfitters. If not, here are the facts in brief: the shirt features an image of a then-fifteen year old model named Hailey Clauson, sitting on a motorcyle with her legs spread. The shot was taken by photographer Jason Lee Parry as an editorial subsequently published in Qvest magazine. T-shirt company Blood is the New Black slapped it on a shirt, which was sold at retailers like Urban Outfitters. And then… Clauson’s parents–who were present at the shoot and seem to have no scruples otherwise when it comes to overtly-sexy photos of their teenager–filed a lawsuit against Urban, asking for $28 million, making all kinds of absurd claims about the “salacious” nature of the shoot, how the image is fodder for pedophiles, and other sexy, sexy red herrings.
Yesterday, we received a press release from the t-shirt company in question, Blood is the New Black:
The images were delivered to us by Jason Lee Parry with the sole purpose of producing tee shirts and marketing them to our network of stores worldwide. One image, depicting a woman on a motorcycle, was printed on men’s and women’s tee shirts and sold to a number of stores, including Urban Outfitters. Neither Urban Outfitters nor Blood is the New Black were aware that the photographer had failed to obtain a model release from the Teen Model or her parents, who were present at the shoot. Blood is the New Black values its relationship with Urban Outfitters and all our customers and feels as though they must not be held responsible for this gross oversight. […] We find it unfortunate that after six years of business we find ourselves, and our partners, part of a situation brought on by a lack of proper protocol from a member of the artistic community. We have addressed this issue internally to ensure such an egregious oversight never occurs again.
Then, Jason Lee Parry’s team jumped into the fray, claiming the photos were used on the t-shirt “unbeknowst” to him. He adds, though, that no one seemed to have any problem with the images in the first place.
Ford modeling agency assigned the model for Jason Lee Parry’s shoot. Ford approved the fashion story featured in Qvest magazine to be published. The photo in question was featured in the model’s portfolio on Ford’s site. All correspondence is documented in emails approving the shoot.
Unbeknownst to Jason Lee Parry the image in question was selected by the t-shirt brand. He was also unaware of retail distribution of the t-shirt.
After the photos were released the model proudly posted the images in question to her personal site.
So, whether the release was obtained or not, no one on Clauson’s team seemed to have any objections to the images… before they were printed on the shirt and sold at a major retailer (and Clauson’s family was left out of the cut). More as the circus develops.