Update #4, July 11: In response to a lawsuit over its recent vintage T-shirt release, the Kendall + Kylie brand responded in a statement: "Canada Inc, the licensee manufacturer of the K + K brand, purchased a very small quantity of vintage T-shirts with performer images already on them. Only two Tupac T-shirts were sold before being pulled from distribution. Canada Inc did not copy anyone's image, remove any copyright notice from any image or attempt to exploit Mr. Miller's claimed right of publicity." They added: "No infringement or violation of anyone's rights" had occurred, because they purchased the photos from a company that was authorized to license them.
Update #3, June 30: The estate for the Notorious B.I.G.'s estate has issued a statement to People about the Jenners' apology, suggesting that more action may be taken. "While we appreciate that the Jenners have made an apology and pulled the unlawful and unauthorized items, this matter has yet to be resolved,” the statement read.
Update #2: At 4:45 p.m., Kylie Jenner posted an apology to Twitter. She wrote: "These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists. We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in anyway [sic]. The tee shirts have been pulled from retail and all images have been removed. We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry."
Update #1: On Thursday, Violetta Wallace, Biggie's mother, took to Instagram to express her outrage with Kendall and Kylie's graphic tees. "I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this," she wrote. "The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!" Fashionista then pointed out that the brand's Instagram removed images of the tops, and that they're no longer available for purchase on its website.
This story was originally published on June 29, 2017.
It’s been quite the week for the Kardashian/Jenner clan. Kim squashed rumors she threw shade at beauty blogger Jackie Aina, while Khloé teased that she may or may not be expecting a child with boyfriend Tristan Thompson. Elsewhere, Kendall and Kylie are well, just keeping up. On Wednesday, the two youngest members of the family dropped their first-ever collection of “vintage” T-shirts for their eponymous line. The offering, titled "Rock vs. Rap," is a line-up of band tees featuring musicians like Pink Floyd, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and Led Zeppelin with — wait for it — the reality tv stars’ Instagram photos, faces, and the letters “KK” transposed on top.
And I have some questions.
First: How can a brand-new, $125 top available in multiples be authentically thrifted? Exactly. Second, there's something that just feels...off about the way the tees are overly sexualized. But, the biggest head-scratcher for me is: Why did a family constantly called out for appropriating Black culture think it was a good idea to cover the faces of icons (and music pioneers) like Tupac and Biggie with their own. Between criticism over Kylie's cornrows, wigs, and even lips, and Kendall’s entire Pepsi fiasco (which alluded to a Black Lives Matter protest), this situation seems like (yet another) not-thought-out decision — and I'm not the only one who thinks so. As Fashionista pointed out, Twitter users aren't exactly happy with these designs, either.
As one user wrote: "This is wrong on so many levels! Why can't they ever do something original? Now they r [sic] just copying & pasting over top of other peoples stuff #FAIL," reminding us that many members of the Kardashian-Jenner family, including Kylie, have been accused of stealing fashion designs from Black women. Another said: "Kendall Jenner selling a shirt with her face overlayed [sic] on top of Tupac is literally racism and I won't stand for it." And she's not wrong.
By placing Kylie Jenner's picture over Tupac's (and not just any image, but a bikini selfie), these shirts whitewash these artists and their purpose; it's way easier for younger white fans to enjoy the musician at a safe distance, independent of their own merits (don’t forget that Tupac himself was an activist, and his mother was once a Black Panther).
The Jenners aren’t the first to co-op any of these artist’s images, or messages, for their own, but the real question is how genuine their interest is. If their past “homages” are any indication, not very.