Imitation isn’t necessarily the highest form of flattery. On Wednesday, Balenciaga presented its men’s spring/summer ’18 collection in Paris, where it doubled-down on normcore dad-style, using actual families to model its collection of patchwork pants, color-blocked windbreakers, and neon sneakers — oh, and a shirt that looked suspiciously close to one made in the early 2000s by New York-based record label Ruff Ryders Entertainment.
Famous for artists like DMX, Eve, The L.O.X., and Drag-On, Ruff Riders was founded by producer Swizz Beatz’s two uncles, Darrin “Dee” and Joaquin “Waah” Dean — so, it's no surprise that Beatz first posted a picture of Balenciaga’s version to Instagram, writing, “We must have a talk about this Ruff Ryder shirt ASAP. Dapper Dan with Gucci now this. Thoughts?????? Blessings.”
Under a separate solo shot of the Ruff Ryders shirt, Swizz wrote: “This is the Ruff Ryders original version from 2000. @balenciaga @vetements_official What are we doing??? Call me back blessings. I Might just want you to open up a fashion school in the Bronx or Harlem. Just so you can give back to the culture! Thoughts????”
Because the label has held several different trade registrations under its name, The Fashion Law is reporting that if Balenciaga didn’t take the proper steps to license the logo, legal action could be next.
It’s unclear whether Vetements designer and Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia is just trolling us at this point, considering this is the same man who created a $1,100 version of a shopping bag that comes free with any purchase, and a designer dupe of IKEA's FRAKTA carryall. Joke or not, commenters are going off about the shirt on Balenciaga's Instagram, with one writing, "This is unacceptable. It is not okay for you to take away from Hip Hop culture, without giving credit where it's due."
We've reached out to Balenciaga for comment, and will update this piece if/when we hear back.