A few days ago I was asked for some advice. The artist Aaron Krach is a colleague at Parsons School of Design. He first presented Indestructible Artifact #11 (Confidence) at the Art Institute of Boston in 2009. Now have a look at this:
Sure, Vetements is known for playing with logos and other iconography of the current condition, DHL being perhaps the best known example. Here, however, the company is replicating part of a work by an independent artist with no acknowledgment and no compensation. To rectify the situation, let us then be clear: the t-shirt sold by Vetements is the work of Aaron Krach. For the record, Krach’s t-shirts, a limited edition of 500, sold for $25 a piece. Vetements is charging $300 for the copy.
I reached out to Susan Scafidi, the Academic Director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University. She was generous and swift with her response. According to Scafidi, it is “difficult situation, because U.S. copyright law doesn’t cover single words or short phrases, and “Insecurity” doesn’t seem to have been used as a trademark here. The court of social media (and social shaming) may be the best bet, but the Fashion Law Institute also has a free Fashion Law Pop-Up Clinic coming up on 6/21.” My thanks to Scafidi and the Fashion Law Institute for making such a resource available.
Demna Gvasalia, you are developing a reputation for yourself as a racist and a thief*, yet you remain one of the most lauded designers of the moment. Why not use your powerful voice towards building an inclusive, egalitarian industry built on integrity?
*My claim of reputation is based on the New York Magazine article and the social media response to Vetements and Balenciaga castings in 2016, and the responses on my Instagram and Facebook to the image comparison above. I don’t know Gvasalia personally to be able to claim he is racist, however the t-shirt in question is for all intents and purposes a replica, and as the lead at Vetements Gvasalia bears responsibility for it.