The jig is up on the old saying that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." On the heels of Gucci being taken to task for that very Dapper Dan-esque jacket it sent down the runway for Cruise 2018, musician/producer Swizz Beatz has called out Balenciaga for a shirt that the Paris-based brand showed as part of its Spring/Summer 2018 collection in Paris on Wednesday.
In what appears to be yet another attempt by fashion to profit in lieu of a formal collaboration, Balenciaga has taken a bit of “inspiration” - as the industry likes to call it - from a piece of the New York-based recording/management label's merch. As pointed out by Swizz - who, is affiliated with the group, along with DMX, Eve, The L.O.X. and Drag-On - Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia sent a shirt down the runway that is a near-exact replica of an early 2000's Ruff Ryders shirt. The problem: It does not seem that Gvasalia or Balenciaga acquired the rights to legally do so.
Swizz, whose uncles Darrin “Dee” Dean and Joaquin “Waah” Dean founded Ruff Ryders Entertainment in 1998, took to his Instagram today to share photos of the lookalike shirts, stating: “We must have a talk about this Ruff Ryder shirt ASAP. Dapper Dan with Gucci now this. Thoughts?????? Blessings.”
He followed it up with a photo of the original shirt, writing: “This is the Ruff Ryders original version from 2000. @balenciaga @vetements_official What are we doing??? Call me back blessings. I Might just want you to open up a fashion school in the Bronx or Harlem. Just so you can give back to the culture! Thoughts????”
As for whether Ruff Ryders Entertainment - which has held an array of trademark registrations for its name, the "Ryde or Die" phrase, and the "R" logo since the early 1990's, including for use on garments - could take legal action, it seems quite likely. This is assuming, of course, that Balenciaga did not license the rights to use the Ruff Ryders trademarks on its shirt.
* Balenciaga was not immediately available for comment.