Another day, another fashion knockoff comes to light: Doesn't it sort of feel that way lately? (Here's yesterday's, ICYMI.) Now, Khloe Kardashian's denim line, Good American, seems to be the latest offender.
On Thursday, the brand released new styles of pants, including a pair of black skinnies that lace-up the sides, all the way from mid-thigh to ankle. If that look sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen Made Gold's O.G. version on the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner. Dubbed the "Betty" and available in black and white, the style debuted in early 2016.
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Taking one look at the two pairs, the scale and placement of both the grommets and laces are quite similar. (We've reached out to Good American reps, and the brand has no comment). There isn't, however, quite as stark a price difference between the two, as we've previously seen with some fast-fashion versions of indie designers' work: For example, last year this sustainably- and ethically-made $781 Brother Vellies sandal got egregiously ripped off by Zara, which priced its version at $59.90. Made Gold's Betty jeans will run you $298, while the Kardashian-created take is $189.
Even though Good American's lace-up style isn't drastically cheaper, it still has more exposure thanks to its famous co-founder. (To note, Made Gold is helmed by Marta Goldschmied, who may have a recognizable last name among denim connoisseurs — her dad is AG founder Adriano Goldschmied — but it's still not the same as a Kardashian-backed label). Of course, Made Gold isn't the only industry player making jeans with this sort of corset-esque detailing (though it is the brand usually attributed with making the look a thing, like when Vogue touted it the "model-off-duty pant trend"). The lacing placement can vary, but lines at similar price points (such as True Religion) as well as far cheaper fast-fashion takes (Forever 21; Topshop) offer somewhat similar jeans.
Below, Clara Jeon, founder of Chapter 2, which represents Made Gold (along with a handful of other emerging designers), shared with Refinery29 why it's so problematic when indie brands see their signature, bestselling, celebrity-worn styles get shamelessly replicated.
"As someone who works exclusively with young designers and small brands and started a company to support them and give them a chance in this industry, I couldn’t let this go: Khloe Kardashian’s denim line, Good American, dropped a 'new' style called the “Good Legs Lace Up,” and it’s a direct ripoff of the Made Gold Betty jean that my designer has worked so hard to make happen.
"Made Gold's Marta Goldschmied designed this style over two years ago when there was nothing like it on the market, and she was told by her then-investors and production partners that the style was 'too slutty. They refused to let her produce it. She split from those investors and production partners a short time later, walking away with virtually nothing except the rights to her designs, and hustled to push her designs, like the Betty lace up jean, to production. Over the past year, we’ve landed the lace up jean on almost every It-girl, including Kylie Jenner, Bella and Gigi Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, and the Betty lace up jean single handedly saved Made Gold from completely shutting down.
"I know the struggles that my designers have to go through to just make it to the next season, so when I see things like them getting ripped off by major, fully-funded brands, it’s more than irritating. It’s insulting and the fundamental reason why it’s so difficult for young brands to continue and grow...[it is] such a blatant ripoff of a small brand, and hopefully make other brands think twice before trying to make a dime off of an independent designer’s talent."