Vetements vs. Forever 21: Beware of Dogg

After announcing that it will team up with Justin Bieber for a collection of tour merch and offering suspiciously similar versions of Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” merch, Forever 21 appears to also be aiming to win over the Vetements crowd by offering at least one lookalike tee for a tiny fraction of the price of the “it” Parisian brand’s offerings. This is an interesting move because in its own way, Vetements observes something of a fast fashion mentality – albeit an expensive one – compared to other similarly situated brands, with its very season-specific and commercial wares (which are meant to be worn now and traded in for something more timely next season or so), and it’s questionable levels of originality. 

Vetements' tee (left) and Forever 21's (right)

Vetements' tee (left) and Forever 21's (right)

Vetements, which is headed up by current fashion darling, Demna Gvasalia, made headlines earlier this year for its release of a $924 t-shirt bearing the face of rapper Snoop Dogg. Because Vetements is not exactly known for utter originality in terms of its spotlight-stealing items (think: DHL tees, Thrasher sweatshirts, and various other garments directly “inspired” by Martin Margiela’s work), the tee at issue is little more than an exact replica of a tour t-shirt from Snoop’s 1993 “Beware of Dogg” tour. The only difference: Vetements’ version comes with a shocking price tag.

Enter: Forever 21, which is offering its own - arguably more original - Snoop Dogg graphic tee. The fast fashion version is complete with the same photo that Vetements used for $17.90. The Snoop photo that Vetements used is prominently placed on the Forever 21 black tee along with three small photos of Snoop and the words “Snoop Dogg” and “Long Beach CA.” Considering that some of the sizes are on their way to selling out, it seems that fashion fans may have noticed the similarity – particularly good knockoffs tend to sell pretty quickly.

Judging by the legality of previous Vetements wares, such as the DHL t-shirts, which were the result of an agreement between DHL and the Paris-based brand, the Vetements Snoop tee is also likely perfectly legal. And rather surprisingly, Forever 21’s version is, too. According to the brand, its Snoop tee is the result of an official licensing deal with Death Row Merchandise Inc., the holder of the copyright in the imagery at issue, thereby releasing Forever 21 from potential copyright infringement litigation. But for such licensing deals, both Vetements and Forever 21 would be in hot water with the merchandising arm of Death Row Records.