Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal
– Pablo Picasso
UPDATE 05/04: Kanye West has commented on the ordeal via his Twitter stating: Today I learned that a newly hired designer on the Yeezy team presented work that was not of their own. This person has immediately been let go from the Yeezy brand. In a moment of inspiration, energy and excitement I had posted this sketch and would like to acknowledge the true creator of this amazing work, Tony Spackman.
If you aren’t up to speed with the latest slew of controversy surround Mr. Kanye West, we don’t blame you. In most recent news, West is being accused of stealing after he posted a shot of a sketch insinuating they are his own. It turns out, the original is actually from a sketch done by Tony Spackman, a esteemed designer who currently works as the design director for Givenchy and has worked for Nike in the past. Spackman called West out in an Instagram Story where he wrote “SORRY, 13 YEAR OLD SKETCH… UNLUCKY FOR SOME”.
Spackman spent nearly a decade designing at Nike with his career spanning from 2000 to 2009, the same year Nike and West released the Air Yeezy, their first official sneaker collaboration project. What’s worse is that we all know that Kanye infamously cut his ties with Nike back in 2013 in a heated ordeal and made a deal with their direct competitor, Adidas. He even wrote the diss track FACTS.
The tweet in question:
Diet Prada, the Instagram account who savagely aims to call out copycatting culture within fashion, was obviously on top of this:
Ever-controversial Kanye is no stranger to digging in the far reaches of the internet for inspiration. Is Ye just showing his creative process with inspiration images or claiming the work to be his own? Photoshopping out the title of the sketch in the top left corner is pretty much a dead giveaway lol. The original by designer @tonyspackman was done in 2005 for a @nike collection called "Living Apparel" which eventually became "Nike React", a running collection grounded in freedom of movement and human comfort. Can we just call it Yee💤y now? 😴 • #yeezy #kanyewest #kanye #kimye #theft #inspiration #illustration #design #fashiondesign #sportswear #streetwear #athleisure #nike #streetstyle #running #nikerunning #hypebeast #highsnobiety #snobshots #wiwt #ootd #copycat #knockoff #wtf #dietprada
Now some of you may be as perplexed as we are – why would Kanye create such a weighty claim that would put YEEZY and his whole career in jeopardy? He probably has the best of the best working for him at Adidas, so why would he take these Nike sketches that are more than 10 years old? We have some theories:
He Didn’t Know They Were Stolen
As a founder of a fashion brand, you don’t necessarily have to be the head designer or even the creative director but you have to be the face and the front lines your brand. Of course, Kanye has no formal education or training in fashion design and has a team of designers working under him. We speculate that one of his designers ripped the design off Spackman’s website which is publicly available to view. Yes, you may argue this happens all the time but it isn’t so innocent when you don’t credit the source. As noted in the Diet Prada post, someone photoshopped OUT the title in the sketch in the upper left corner that reads Living Apparel Fall ’05 – it seems to us like someone was trying to cover up their tracks. Lest we forget that time when Nike tried to sue 3 ex-employees for trying to set up an Adidas-backed design studio.
The Inherent Nature of the Designs Aren’t Original Ideas
Some people were quick to argue that these were just mere references. As you can observe, it’s mainly anatomical sketches of the human leg. Technically, you can’t plagiarize off of what’s universally inherent to everyone and as the case in question here, the human leg IS the basis of creating apparel which is what West claimed this is. However, these critics failed to look closer and read the writing. There are various arrows that point to specific technical notes such as consider waistband construction to increase breathability and comfort and does supporting critical muscle groups and joints optimize performance/ help prevent injury or the opposite? It’s evident that Spackman did his research and showed clear signs of a design process and brainstorming.
He Knows They are Stolen but Doesn’t Care
This may be the most unlikely theory but it’s still very possible knowing Kanye is the king of not giving a single fuck. After all, he did have this to say about originality. *Kanye shrug*:
West has yet to respond. What do you think? Discuss your thoughts in the comments below.