A Toast to Controversy: Designer Parody Clothing

I recently ran across an “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” sweatshirt by the infamous brand Reason while I was shopping, and of course I had to have it.

The renaming of Yves Saint Laurent‘s iconic name to Saint Laurent Paris has been one of the most talked about controversies in the fashion industry this year.  While the shortening of iconic fashion houses’ names has been trending lately, with Christian Dior changing to “Dior” and Coco Chanel as “Chanel,”  many think changing the YSL branding is too soon since it is a more recent design house.  The name change signifies a new, more modern, look for the brand; however, YSL junkies aren’t quite sold on the new name. Creative director Hedi Slimane promises that the YSL branding will still be used although the name has changed to Saint Laurent Paris. WWD

While that is old news, the name change controversy fueled another controversy regarding the tongue in cheek designer parody slogan “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.” Creative Director Hedi Slimane cut all business ties with Colette, one of the largest independent retailers in the world, over carrying the parody clothing reading “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.”  The end of their business together was quite a shock to the industry because of their close relationship and the high amount of YSL inventory sold at Collette . Sara Andelman, the creative director and owner of Colette was quoted: NY Times

“We were loyal and for me it was a nice relationship,” she said. “I can’t believe this is just for a stupid T-shirt. ”

Designer parody clothing has been one of the largest street style trends this season, and Saint Laurent Paris wasn’t the only target. Plenty of major design houses were parodied, including Celine, Hermes, Balmain, Kenzo, and Prada just to name a few. 

Many of the creative directors from the design houses listed above have embraced the designer parody clothing trend by wearing it themselves.  “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” clothing sold out of the Collette stores and continues to prove just as profitable.

According to WWD, to be dubbed “illegal” two factors are investigated: “whether there is actual consumer confusion between the two brands and whether there is dilution of the original brand’s value.”

In my opinion, all of the designer parody clothing logos are obviously not made from the actual designers that they are parodying.  If anything, the clothing is adding extra publicity and buzz for the brand.  If a shopper buys designer parody clothing chances are they know who the designer is, and they are not purchasing it because they think they are purchasing a designer’s product.


Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images used in this post.