Kanye West might want to reconsider how and where he finds design inspiration. Back in March, the rapper and fashion designer released a pair of camo pants in his Yeezy Season 5 collection (Kim Kardashian West was even snapped wearing them), but the pattern was a near knock-off of one sold by American outdoor outfitters Jordan Outdoor Enterprises. Not surprisingly, Kanye was sued. He was also under fire earlier this year for taking a 10-year-old sketch from ex-Nike designer Tony Spackman and claiming it as his own. (After some backlash, Kanye explained that a new employee had presented the sketches as his own, and was later let go.)
These should have been lessons in why it’s wrong to take other people’s ideas, but that didn’t seem to stick with the dad of three. Kanye is now being called out for ripping off works by artist Rita Minissi in his newest look book for Yeezy Season 6.
Diet Prada, an Insta account dedicated to exposing the copycats of the world, was the first to reveal the similarities.
The top photo is a 2015 Minissi photograph that explores the personal topics of body identity and trauma. The bottom photo, which has a wildly similar aesthetic, is one of the new campaign snaps to promote the #SuperMoon Season 6 collection, and was shot by 27-year-old Eli Russell Linnetz.
Same same, but different? You be the judge.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when one artist (an incredibly wealthy and high-profile one at that) is blatantly stealing from another, that’s called intellectual property theft, and most people aren’t willing to stay quiet, including Minissi.
“Although I am deeply distressed by this exploitation, the greater issue here is that a large corporate entity is profiting off of years of labor from a self-funded artist by turning something cathartic into capital; attempting to steal the truth of an individual without consequences,” Minissi told Refinery 29. “This is not an isolated instance, to the corporate entity in question or to the industry as a whole.”
The artist even shared Story Highlights on her Instagram page, which she titled “Why Meezy,” so users can scroll through all seven of the side-by-side pics of her original works from 2015 and Kanye’s new Season 6 shots.
It’s gut wrenching to be on the hard working/lesser known artist’s side, helpless almost. Minissi told R29 that all of this media attention is out of her comfort zone. She’s received an onslaught of harassment from Kanye fans, too.
“A painful personal trauma is defining my identity in news media, while I receive hateful messages from strangers when I’ve done nothing wrong and never desired to be at the center of a public spectacle,” she said. “Undoubtedly, this situation is not solely significant to me and my story, but to all other artists/creatives who have endured a similar ethical offense.”
Stealing someone else’s creative ideas and calling them your own is alarming, icky and needs to end. Unfortunately, this likely won’t be the last time we see Kanye or another big brand in the spotlight for slapping their name on something that is another’s hard work.