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Is Forever 21 Copying Kanye's Gear?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on June 23, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A long time ago, Ecclesiastes said that there is nothing new under the sun. Yet we claim ownership over artistic works as if they were truly new. We call these works intellectual property. In some cases, people can become very wealthy from their works of creative genius.

Kanye West is such a person. So he's probably not pleased that his merchandise may have inspired fast fashion giant Forever 21. The claim, made by Hypebeast and reported by People, is that a t-shirt sold on the musician's pop up shop in association with his album The Life of Pablo was copied by the retailers. Let's consider.

I Feel Like Pablo

The accusation made against Forever 21 is not far-fetched. Of course the retailer's not selling TLOP tees exactly, yet there are definitely some suspicious similarities. The color, font, theme, and even a touch of conspicuous authenticity all appear to be inspired by, if not a copy of, Kanye's merchandise.

Yeezy's tees say I Feel Like Pablo and are reportedly salmon colored. They say This Is An Ultralight Dream in back and the letters are arranged in a bridge within which is written This is a God Dream. The original tees also boast deliberate disarray, which Kanye loves, what People calls "a dangling asymmetrical white strap, just to give it that incoherently disheveled vibe."

The Forever 21 tees are the same sort of rusty salmon as Yeezy's shirts and speak in biblical terms too. They refer to Simon de Cyrene, who reportedly carried Jesus' cross to the crucifixion site and is getting more media coverage recently than since the New Testament was written probably. The t-shirt says Simon De Cyrene For The World.

Does that seem weird, a little too close for comfort or perhaps a dig at the msuician who dares to call himself Yeezy for Jesus? Maybe. But if you go on Etsy you will find many imitations of Yeezy's TLOP tees. Everyone feels like Pablo and that was Kanye's point, right?

What's in a T?

Recently, retailer Zara was also accused of copying the Kanye style. But beware. Kanye didn't invent shapeless, drab gear and deliberate disarray, though he's famous for it -- he's just bringing it to the masses in fashion shows that get much press.

To some it is evident that no idea is original. We are all drafting a single story of humanity and everyone iterates on certain themes. But people do need to make money from their ideas. Although nothing is new under the sun, there are copyright suits to protect Kanye's creativity. There isn't a suit against Forever 21 yet, but there may be if all this buzz continues.

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