Fashion just can't stop poaching other people's ideas lately. First, there was Gucci/Dapper Dan drama. (Which came to a halt after Gucci reportedly reached out to Dap following backlash, as detailed in this delightful New York Times profile.) Now Balenciaga has apparently ripped off the Ruff Ryder logo. Swizz Beatz, a founding member of Ruff Ryder, took to Instagram to ask folks what they thought of the situation.
In its last mens wear presentation, Balenciaga cheekily reworked Bernie Sander's logo campaign into their designs. At the time, the political connotation felt topical and made some semblance of sense.
Something about this copy and paste seems more egregious though. When does homage veer into intellectual property theft? Basically when it's not OK'd by the owner of the original idea, and when they reap no profits from the sale of products resembling their likeness. In this case, it would appear as both of those boxes are checked.
Swizz, wisely, didn't really explicitly say that Balenciaga didn't go through proper channels, he more alluded to it. That decision might make all the difference in how this relationship proceeds. After all, Gucci really didn't even admit to copying Dap. It was only after many people voiced their displeasure with the jacking that Gucci declared it homage. Almost immediately after, Dap confirmed, "We're at the table." At the time of the presentation, Dap's name was not made mention of — almost like if they didn't get caught, they wouldn't have admitted to it.
It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Balenciaga and Ruff Ryder will proceed. Social media gives way to a new kind of accountability — could these two examples of IP theft create precedent for the way in which future collaborations will be forged? Only time will tell.
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