Have you heard of HGC Apparel? You probably have. At least, you've probably seen some of their products online. Howard graduate, Marcia Smith, founded HGC Apparel in 2008. The company is most known for its 'Black By Popular Demand' clothing line. You've probably seen shirts and jackets with that slogan all over social media. You may have also seen it in places it shouldn't be. Black-owned HGC Apparel has been ripped off by several non-Black-owned companies. It's not ok. It needs to stop.
Smith reached out to We Buy Black in the hopes that we could bring awareness to the injustices enacted against HGC Apparel. Once the brand became popular, Smith became a hot commodity. Since there is a legal battle in progress, the key players in this dispute cannot be mentioned. A major company requested that Smith curate an Afro-centric page on their site. Essentially, this page would host Black-owned vendors--sounds like a rip-off of We Buy Black. "Since [the company] doesn't do anything for the Black community," Smith decided against helping them. Smith unknowingly declared war.
The company in question pursued the opportunity to work with Smith. After 20+ inquiries via email and phone, she finally told them that she was not interested in helping a company that doesn't support our community. From there, the company in question began using images from HGC Apparel's website and selling knock-off versions of their clothes. Of course, the company in question did this without permission from Smith. As you can imagine Smith grew enraged.
Not The Only One
Although the company in question was the first company to sell knock-off versions of HGC Apparel's merchandise, they were not the only company to do so. Eventually, Smith found her apparel all over the internet and on social media. Shortly after HGC Apparel's merchandise was first illegally sold, other well-known brands jumped on board. And as if it isn't bad enough that HGC Apparel is being ripped off, these companies have non-Black models in pieces that say 'Black By Popular Demand' and 'Black Smart.' Nothing against non-Black people but this is a head-scratcher.
The HGC Apparel Brand
Smith was advised to turn the other cheek and focus on building her brand. It's difficult to build a brand, however, when the brand is being ripped off and degraded. While the non-affiliated vendors are profiting from HGC Apparel, Smith and her company are losing money and credibility. Smith's vision did not include selling HGC Apparel in non-Black-owned stores. Her vision was to establish a self-sustaining, Black-owned and operated brand. Now that she is achieving her goal, big non-Black-owned companies want a piece of the pie.
Calling Them Out
Smith has approached this predicament in a diplomatic manner. First, she contacted each company and asked them to remove her images and cease from selling fake versions of her clothing. When that didn't work, she began calling the companies out via social media to no avail. Now, she has asked We Buy Black to get involved. We support HGC Apparel and are calling out any company that is illegally profiting off of HGC Apparel.
We are not calling for a protest of these companies that have ripped HGC Apparel off. There's no time to protest. Here's what we want: any company that is illegally selling HGC Apparel merchandise must stop, and to the readers: don't buy HGC Apparel gear on any other site except hgcapparel.com. If you support the Buy Black Movement, shop HGC Apparel. It's a unique, one-of-a-kind brand with originality that is unmatched. Recognize the fakes from the originals.