This weekend, streetwear fans (read: rappers, wannabe rappers and Givenchy t-shirt aficionados) were buzzing. Turns out, a rapper named Fabolous appeared on-stage recently in a lookalike Wil Fry jersey (aka in a Givenchy-printed jersey). In case you aren't familiar, graphic designer Wil Fry took the Givenchy birds of paradise print, put it on a Brooklyn Nets jersey, gave it to some friends and/or people in Kanye West's crew and thus, created some sort of streetwear Internet sensation.
According to Fry, Fabolous is the guilty party here, as the rapper contacted him about getting some of the jerseys for his tour since they aren't actually for sale. (Fry says he doesn't sell them in any real quantity because he likes exclusivity, but lets be honest, it's because he doesn't want to face Givenchy's parent company, LVMH, in court for copyright infringement - and rightfully so). Anyway, Fry reportedly told Fabolous he'd have to pay for them. As a result, the rapper found "Givenchy" jerseys elsewhere: Michigan menswear shop, REVIVE. Fry subsequently took to his Twitter for a lengthy Kanye West-style rant about the "fake" jersey. Interestingly/confusingly, Fry's anger is directed towards the rapper alone (and not REVIVE and the individuals responsible for making/selling the jerseys).
Putting aside the fact that Fabolous reached out to Fry and didn't want to pay for the jerseys, I do not see the controversy. Maybe it's the protectionist in me but if any party has legitimate grounds to speak out in this situation, it's Givenchy. It seems we are forgetting that the jerseys in question are almost certainly copyright infringements of original Givenchy prints. We can make the fair use/parody argument in Fry's defense, but there really is no way to predict how a court would decide this one. My guess is that we'd never know, as this "case" would never make it that far. Fry would likely stop production upon receipt of a cease and desist letter from the luxury giant.
The questions we can ponder are: Just how original is the Givenchy birds of paradise jersey, and thus, is there any legitimacy to Fry's claims of copying?
Givenchy t-shirt (left) & REVIVE's jersey (right)