Urban Outfitters is one of several defendants in a $28 million lawsuit filed by the parents of teenage model Hailey Clauson, who are upset that sexy photos of their daughter were printed on T-shirts and sold without their permission. Ironically, Clauson's age has caused controversy before: Diane Von Furstenberg, who often preaches against the use of underage models, notoriously apologized after Clauson was cast in her show last season (she didn't know that Clauson was only 15 at the time).
Clauson turned 16 this past March, but the photos on the Urban Outfitters tees were taken when she was 15 by photographer Jason Lee Parry. Clauson's parents gave permission for the shoot, according to the lawsuit; Parry told ABC News that Clauson's father was even there for parts of it, and looked through some of the photos afterward. Parry sold the photos to clothing company Blood Is The New Black, who screened them onto T-shirts and supplied them to Urban Outfitters. Blood Is The New Black owner Mitra Khayyam told Styleite that she had no idea the image featured a 15-year-old and wasn't cleared for use:
Neither she, nor her staff nor anyone at Urban Outfitters was aware that photographer Jason Lee Parry didn’t get a release form for the photo ... Khayyam also denied the allegation that her company stole the image from Parry. The company has worked with him before, and the image in question is one of several that were “delivered to us with the sole purpose of producing tee shirts and marketing them to our network of stores worldwide.”
Meanwhile, Parry argues that the photograph isn't salacious at all (the lawsuit called it "x-rated"). He told ABC News this morning:
She's a professional model. She posed herself... I look at it and I think, 'This is a really cool shot.' The real question here is, 'Is she showing any private parts?' If that was the case, I completely understand [the concern].
While a 15-year-old's private parts on a T-shirt would certainly be worrisome, the real question is actually whether or not Parry had permission to distribute these photos. The shoot was obviously condoned by the parents, but whether or not they signed release forms for the images is an entirely different matter (especially where money is involved, since these photos clearly turned a tidy profit).
See Parry make his case in the video.