Dolls Kill, an online fashion retailer known for its edgy and alternative styles, has faced no shortage of controversies since it was founded in 2011. The brand, started by husband-wife duo Bobby Farahi and Shoddy Lynn, has been repeatedly accused of racism, cultural appropriation, art theft, and promoting harmful messaging through its products. Despite its continued popularity among fans of punk, goth, and festival fashion, Dolls Kill remains a controversial name in the industry. Here are we are going to discuss Dolls Kill controversies that are taking over the internet.
Cultural Appropriation and Racism
One of the most common criticisms leveled at Dolls Kill controversies is that it frequently appropriates designs and aesthetics from other cultures, especially marginalized groups, without properly crediting or compensating them.
In 2014, the company came under fire for selling Native American headdresses as part of its Halloween costume collection. Dolls Kill was accused of culturally appropriating important Indigenous cultural symbols and perpetuating stereotypes. A customer who emailed the company to complain received a dismissive response claiming “the last thing DollsKill would be/represent is Racist.”
This was not an isolated incident. Dolls Kill has repeatedly used Native American and Indigenous motifs like dreamcatchers and geometric prints without context. Critics argue this commodifies sacred cultural symbols and minimizes their significance.
Beyond Native cultures, Dolls Kill has been accused of appropriating designs and styles from Black artists and designers without credit. At the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, many called out the brand for profiting from Black culture without giving back.
The company also faced backlash in 2020 when old images resurfaced of Dolls Kill selling a shirt with the slogan “Goth is White.” The racist messaging led many to accuse the brand of co-opting subcultures while promoting white supremacy.
Dolls Kill Controversies Regarding Promoting Harmful Messaging
In addition to racism and appropriation, Dolls Kill has been called out repeatedly for promoting offensive and harmful messaging through its products.
The brand has faced criticism for glorifying mental illness and disorders. For example, Dolls Kill sold shirts reading “A Cut Above the Rest” depicting bloody razors, making light of self-harm. It also marketed soaps with names like “Social Anxiety” that made fun of real mental health conditions.
Dolls Kill apparel has also been accused of promoting rape culture. The company sold tops with sayings like “Dead Girls Can’t Say No,” which many viewed as making light of sexual assault and violence against women.
Such products led to accusations that Dolls Kill uses shock value and edgy messaging to generate sales while downplaying serious social issues like mental health and sexual violence.
Dolls Kill has also repeatedly dealt with allegations that it steals designs from independent artists, especially those from marginalized backgrounds.
In 2020, several Black artists spoke out about Dolls Kill allegedly copying their designs for shirts, dresses, and other products without permission, credit, or compensation.
Smaller accessory designers have also accused the company of stealing their work, like an indie brand that called out Dolls Kill for selling eerily similar versions of their beaded necklaces and fringe earrings.
Critics argue Dolls Kill relies heavily on mimicking up-and-coming designers to quickly generate new products, rather than collaborating ethically.
- Poor manufacturing ethics: Dolls Kill has faced criticism over lack of supply chain transparency and potentially unethical manufacturing conditions. With production largely occurring in China, critics argue audits and oversight may be lacking.
- Environmental impact: The brand offers little information on sustainability initiatives or steps to reduce its environmental footprint. As a fast fashion retailer, concerns exist around waste and textile pollution.
- Customer service issues: Customers have lodged complaints about long shipping times, incorrect orders, and poor communication from Dolls Kill’s customer service team.
- Lack of inclusive sizing: Although Dolls Kill has expanded its sizing, the range remains limited compared to mainstream fashion. Many have called out the lack of true plus sizes.
Dolls Kill’s Responses
Dolls Kill and its leadership have issued various statements and responses amid the years of controversy.
In 2020, founder Shoddy Lynn addressed past accusations of cultural appropriation and racism in an Instagram video, stating items like the “Goth is White” shirt were “culturally insensitive” and selling the Native headdress was a “mistake.”
However, many argued the brand’s responses have been insufficient, and concrete steps are needed to address issues like art theft and lack of diversity in leadership and collaborators.
The brand has made some attempts at improvement, such as starting initiatives to work with more designers of color and expand sizing. But critics say substantial change is still lacking in areas like supply chain transparency, sustainability practices, and addressing past harm.
The Impact on Dolls Kill’s Reputation
The steady stream of controversies has clearly impacted Dolls Kill’s reputation, though the brand maintains a loyal fanbase.
Dolls Kill’s public image has suffered considerably among many consumers, especially those from marginalized communities most affected by accusations of appropriation and racism.
However, fans of the brand’s punk/goth aesthetic continue to shop from Dolls Kill, arguing there are few alternative retailers that provide its style at accessible price points.
The controversies have fueled debate around “cancel culture” and whether Dolls Kill deserves another chance to learn and improve. But the brand continues to face scrutiny until substantial reforms are enacted.
Ultimately, the history of controversies has meant Dolls Kill is now widely considered a problematic company by industry insiders and fashion watchdogs, even as it retains a core consumer base. Its reputation as an edgy, rebellious brand has been tarnished by carelessness and lack of ethics. Whether Dolls Kill can truly redeem itself remains to be seen, but the brand must grapple with years of harmful missteps as it moves into the future.