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"The (Black) Fashion Industry: It’s Like Taking Candy From a Baby"

Nov 15, 2018

"The (Black) Fashion Industry: It’s Like Taking Candy From a Baby"

"Notorious brands and figures in the fashion industry have all contributed to stunting the growth of emerging designers."

Luxury designer brands such as Gucci, Dior, Fendi and fast fashion retailers such as FashionNOVAhave become household names. Every spring and winter, those big brands andothers like it, debut their new and highly anticipated collections. Through amyriad of international fashion weeks, masses get a peek of what the newesttrends will be. Although consumers love them, the real question is where andhow are they developing these, so-called, “trends.” And the answer is the sameas its’ always been – they’re not. 

Dapper Dan – Photographed by Gabriela Celeste of GQ

From 1982 to 1992, Daniel Day, ran the urban, high-fashion scene. While residing in and being a native of Harlem, he owned a tailor shop that became a staple in early Hip-Hop fashion. Daniel Day, who would eventually be known to all as Dapper Dan, supplied rap artist, boxers, drug dealers and anyone else looking to shop with personal flare. Buyers wanted what designers weren’t constructing. His signature became “knock-off” luxury designs. He’d take scrap material, real or fake, from labels: MCM, Fendi, Gucci & Louis Vuitton — and create new silhouettes through his commissioned pieces. Once word got around of Dapper Dan’s success and how he’d been monetizing, he was hit with several law suits. Legal trouble led to the 24-hour, 125th Street storefront to say good-bye to what it had become. 

In the summer of 2017, Gucci debuted its 2018 latest runway collection for the Italian fashion house’s Cruise 2018 collection. Media teams were present as usual, to document the looks of the season. Once galleries were released published on multiple platforms, the black community immediately expressed their dislike for the design. 

The “new” design that caused uproar was almost a replica of a Dapper Dan original. It was easy to tell that this was more than inspiration. 

Of course, once the Internet became outraged, Gucci was quick to claim the designas homage. Isn’t it funny that once the tables were turned, the narrative wentfrom theft to homage in .2 seconds? Interesting to say the least. 

Fast fashion retailer FashionNOVA has decided to follow the narrative of, “No I’m not stealing. I’m simply taking all your creative entity and putting my name on it because you can’t afford the influence I poses. Thanks again but I won’t give you credit.” 

In July of 2018, FashionNOVA was exposed for its’ discreditable way of handling business. Instagram influencer, fashion blogger and designer Jai Nice uploaded video footage to to support her claims. Jai Nice is the owner of clothing label, Kloset Envy. Nice accused FashionNOVA of stealing an original design from here by ordering under a surname to eventually mass produce replicas of her work. To make matters anymore blatant, the fashion company then returned the ordered garment to her door from their shipping department. 

The sisters, Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, have also been accused of stealing from black creatives. Technically, everything about them can be credited to Black Americans. 

According to Teen Vogue, Kardashian stole a concept from black designer and entrepreneur, Destiney Bleu. Her brand, Dbleudazzled, has been responsible for personal commissions for the likes of Beyoncé. It has been reported that Kardashians’ team contacted Bleu to order one of everything available on her site. After doing so and receiving the packages, Kardashian expressed her love for all pieces and requested something more personal. 

Shortly after, Kardashian was seen making promo for her collaboration with Good American while sporting a bodysuit resembling what she’d just received from Bleu. Sad thing is, she wasn’t wearing a Bleu design but instead, her own. 

Kylie Jenner followed in the footsteps of her older sister by playing the game, the same way. After purchasing and being seen in designs by Tizita Balemlay. Balemlay is the owner of independent fashion brand, PluggedNYC. In June of 2017, a few weeks after her sisters’ scandal, Jenner was accused of stealing designs verbatim from Balemlay. Jenner added the replicas of what she’d bought from Balemlay to her online shop with no shame. 

It’s been said that in fashion, things of this nature happen all the time. Honestly, this happens in life all the time. Money and influence have always seemed to win over genuine quality and service. This is a situation where the bad guy seems to be winning over the good guys. 

These independent, emerging and black designers are struggling to uphold their business for what they are worth. These fashion victims all share a common love for their supporters. 

Social media has been an outlet to help make consumers aware of the truth. Their followers continue to help maintain the integrity of these emerging brands. 

EastAfrican college student and emerging designer, Iikenna, expressed his thoughtson big brands taking advantage of emerging designers and their lack of following.

“Of course, I’m scared of a bigger brand trying to infiltrate what I’ve worked hard for. I’ve put a lot into my brand, Kene.It’s what they do. I can only hope that it doesn’t happen. If it were to, I’d fight hard for my brand,” said Iikeena. 

He continueswith, “It sucks when you can’t just get credit. A simple shout-out or a seat atthe table would suffice. Why not invest in me or hire me as a part of the team?They play on the fact that these new brands don’t have as much clout orcelebrity as them and that just wrong. Everyone is a bully in America.”

These designers are being treated like involuntary interns. They’re coming up with the ideas, branding them, gaining a following and finally executing just to have them stolen with no repercussion. 

Not to race bate but, the people who are stealing are white while the victims are black. As if this hasn’t always been the narrative for people of color. 

Because the United States never considered fashion as an industry to protect, they don’t have laws that forbid this kind of behavior. But why would America have laws to prevent white people from getting what they want?

Since coming to America those of African descent have been at the forefront of new, fresh and creative ideas. That characteristic trait, some will say, is embedded in Black Americans. 

With that being said, the wheel will always be reinvented. Black American have kept all the Christopher Columbus’ of the world on their toes and honestly, it seems like as a people, that’s all we can do.