SYDNEY — Gucci’s copying flak doesn’t end with Dapper Dan.
Three weeks after the Italian luxury brand addressed allegations that its cruise 2018 collection included a copy of a puff-sleeve bomber jacket designed by the Harlem tailor in 1989 — with a Gucci spokesperson issuing a statement describing the look as an “homage” — the company is facing more pressure over two artworks also featured in the collection.
At press time two artists who claim their designs have been copied by Gucci were briefing lawyers, after multiple attempts to discuss the matter with the company in recent weeks were ignored, they said.
At issue: Gucci’s white T-shirt emblazoned with a graphic of a snake inside an ovular shape made from three lines of bold type, the largest over the top reading “Guccify yourself.” The other design was a tote bag featuring a graphic of a roaring panther on a rock encircled by two lines of large bold type, one reading “Guccification.”
The T-shirt was worn by several models in the show, as well as by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele when he appeared during the finale.
Bali-based New Zealand artist Stuart Smythe contends the snake artwork is a copy of a logo he created in 2014 for his yet-to-launch CLVL Apparel Co. clothing brand. Although flipped and reversed, Gucci’s snake features identical scales, shadows under the overlaps, lightning bolts and the same small white spot on the letter “R” — the result of a deliberate aged font treatment on the original, the artist claimed.
Milan Chagoury, who designs under the brand name of Stay Bold, contends that the tote bag features a copy of a logo he designed in 2015 for the White Tiger Tattoo Co. tattoo parlor in Australia. Chagoury owns the rights to the artwork, which features a striped tiger instead of a panther.
Chagoury has worked with music and apparel names such as Pearl Jam, Blink 182, Rise Against, Parkway Drive, Vans, Reebok and Hurley.
On Tuesday, Gucci declined to comment directly on the artists’ claims or the almost 300 comments on the brand’s June 3 Instagram post showing a close-up of the tote, nearly all of which accuse Gucci of copying Stay Bold.
A company spokesperson told WWD, “The Gucci cruise 2018 collection saw a continuation of Alessandro Michele’s exploration of faux-real culture with a series of pieces playing on the Gucci logo, under the themes of ‘Guccification’ and ‘Guccify Yourself.’ A creative exchange with street style and street vernacular using graphics and words that have been ‘Guccified.’ In the last two-and-a-half years Gucci has defined itself through a series of creative collaborations that have arisen organically, symbolizing a generational shift. Also in this instance, we are now in direct contact with the respective talents.”
Chagoury and Smythe said following WWD’s enquiry to Gucci, they were both contacted by a company representative offering the possibility of a future collaboration.
According to Chagoury, the offer was conditional upon signing a confidentiality agreement.
“I’m not interested after what’s happened,” said Chagoury. “They didn’t respond to me for weeks. This is them covering [up] a massive wrongdoing in the art and design community and in the fashion industry full stop.”
Smythe said he’s not interested in collaborating with Gucci either and is disappointed in the company.
“They’re meant to be the most creative, they set the level that everyone else looks at,” said Smythe. “If they’d approached me earlier with a number then sure, I would have thought about selling my design. But now [I don’t like] the way they’ve gone about it. They’re not going to credit me as a designer for Gucci.”
Houston, Tex.-based attorney Tyler Branson, who is representing Smythe, said he believes the New Zealand artist is in a particularly strong position because the artwork in question was also his corporate identity.
“Gucci should not be allowed to take away somebody else’s corporate identity or somebody else’s artistic identity for their own gain and not have any repercussions for doing that,” he said.