Designer Lamont ‘Tory’ Stapleton calls out Balenciaga for appropriating his design

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Yesterday, creator and entrepreneur Lamont “Tory” Stapleton took to Instagram to draw attention to an alarming issue that often plagues black creatives: appropriation. The multi-hyphen made a reel calling out Balenciaga for “borrowing” one of his designs without his permission and selling the appropriate design for 25 times the price. Stapleton detailed the story from the idea of ​​his design to discovering Balenciaga’s similar design years later in an IG video.

In 2019, Stapleton created a black crew neck with the word “FREE” embroidered as part of its Struggle is Common line. He states in the video that he soon after attended a private party in Los Angeles with “some of the biggest names in fashion and some of the most influential people in the world.” The video then shows a montage of Stephens wearing the sweater alongside Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, Ye, and more.

Designer Lamont 'Tory' Stapleton calls out Balenciaga for appropriating his design

“In early 2019, after losing a friend to a long battle with addiction, I released a line called Struggle is Common. My goal was to remind people that they are not alone and to encourage them to face their problems head-on if they truly wish to be FREE,” the designer wrote in his caption.What was created in the spirit of spreading love and awareness was soon to be eclipsed by creative theft. two years old, and people started tagging him in a video of Diddy for Vanity Fair, wearing what appeared to be his design, “It became apparent that someone had borrowed my work, but I didn’t know who,” the creator said in his IG video.

He soon discovered that the replica in question was that of Balenciaga. Balenciaga’s ‘Free’ crewneck version was featured on the runway as part of the brand’s Fall/Winter 2021 show (in December 2020, a year after Stapleton’s design launched), which quickly made an appearance in stores and online retailers – with a “rising” price. at 25 times the price” of Stapleton’s design.

Stapleton ends the video by asking, “If anyone knows anyone who works at Balenciaga, can you please ask them to contact me?” We just need to have a conversation. Stephens’ story is part of a much larger conversation that we know all too well (see; Dapper Dan x Gucci, Fashion Nova, etc.) every few months; a more established brand/retailer is reprimanded on accusations of theft, especially when it comes to black creatives. It also raises the question of what protection do black creatives have against creative theft and appropriation when it happens so often? As this story continues to reach the masses (and black fashion Twitter), we’re interested to see what Balenciaga’s response will be.

We will follow this story as updates become available.

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