Jeremy Scott's bold, hyper-colored street wear has a die-hard following of kids who love his flippant and cartoony approach to syrup-coated hoodies and jumpers. The designer is perhaps one of the best recognized talents to turn his very alternative offerings into a large-scale collaboration — his Adidas x Jeremy Scott partnership is one of the longest lasting and most recognizable in the industry.
Yet, Scott has had his share of controversy, too. From insensitive products to accusations of copycatting, Scott has had a love/hate relationship with independent bloggers and Tumblr writers who have questioned how original his designs actually are. This, of course, is the nature of taking inspiration from the underground: When you use an aesthetic of the scene, the scene might get a little mad.
Yet, for his fall '13 collection, Jeremy Scott showed not one, but nine prints that looked awfully familiar to anyone who might be from his native California with a penchant for skate culture. His gruesome cartoons looked almost exactly like the designs of beloved skateboard company Santa Cruz. Jim Phillips and his son, Jimbo Phillips, were (and continue to be) instrumental in the skateboarding community, creating some of the aggressive surf-cum-skate imagery that defined '70s, '80s, and '90s skate culture. From punk posters to classic decks, the Santa Cruz artists are, within a particular community, incredibly well-known.
When the similarities were initially pointed out, both Phillips father and son were shocked. Jimbo initially posted, "This is crazy!" on his Facebook and has since posted and reposted stories on the collection. Through the Santa Cruz Facebook page, which has 207,094 fans, the company clarified: "This is not a collaboration or under license, nor did we or the Phillips family approve the use of this artwork on his apparel designs in any way." According to the statement, the duo had never even heard of Scott until people started posting on the similarities. As Jimbo tells Skateboarding magazine this is not a shout-out to skating's history. "A hommage or tribute would have come with acknowledgement and respect," he says.
But what is really curious, through this whole ordeal, is how mum Jeremy Scott has been. He's tweeted plenty since the story broke, and his Facebook page's comments are absolutely littered with angry skaters. MTV Style reached out to the designer's PR and never received a response. We also have reached out to Scott's PR representative — and the entire company — and haven't heard anything. But it isn't just a PR mishap: He simply has remained totally silent on the whole fracas.
Yet, Jeremy Scott's silence almost says more than any apology. We can only wonder what he is doing: Maybe hoping to negotiate a settlement behind closed doors? Trying to retroactively license the images? Or, since plagiarism is no stranger to fashion, is he crafting a heartfelt apology while promising not to produce the prints in question? Whatever it may be, we hope he isn't simply hoping the issue will go away. Because that is not okay.
As Santa Cruz's CEO writes, "I hope that Mr. Scott sees that his actions have hurt and affected many people, including the Phillips family, and that he has also severely damaged his own reputation. It is not too late for him to do the right thing, as an artist and creative person, and fix his error in judgment."
Photo: MCV/Firstview and MTV Style