Bronx-based fashion designer K. Tyson Perez is irate and says that Michael M. Williams, the new creative director of French fashion house Givenchy, stole his design for a black leather bucket hat with a zipper motif. But apparently, Williams has been flaunting his version on his own page and given no mention of Perez.
Speaking with the NY Post’s Page Six, Perez said, “I saw that he posted it [on Instagram], and saw all the comments calling it, ‘Genius. What a brilliant idea.’ And he was responding to people, so I chimed in and said, ‘This looks very familiar. At least you could’ve done a better job in the construction of my design if you weren’t going to give me credit. He didn’t respond, but he’s been looking at my [social media] stories, so he’s aware of what he’s done.”
Perez started his HardWear Style hat line seven years ago, has worked with models like Eva Marcille and Chanel Iman, and his hats have been featured before in previous fashion shows and magazines. However, from his side, the lack of overt acknowledgment or appropriate financial compensation has gone too far.
“It’s not only about me. It’s for all the Black artists who have had this happen to them in the past… It’s not right, and it’s not going to be tolerated. It’s not business as usual. You need to give Black creatives their credit, cut them a check for their work. It’s not enough to be invited to a show or a table. I don’t want the homage. Compensate me. The same way everything with them is about commerce. I need a check as well.”
In another interview with The Guardian, Perez expressed his frustration with Williams’s alleged theft from a wider, racial perspective: “I think white designers, artists, writers, entertainers or any form of creativity appropriating from black culture during any period without recognition is wrong and downright disgusting. Unfortunately, it is no longer shocking.”
This occurrence has strong shades of when Gucci was accused of stealing the design for its popular jacket, Look No. 33, from Harlem fashion icon Dapper Dan. Gucci’s reps later informed the New York Times that it was an “exploration of popular culture and that the look was an homage rather than reappropriation.”
With regard to Perez and his claim, neither Givenchy nor Williams have issued an official statement on the matter as yet.