Earlier this week Kanye West launched his Season 9 show at Paris Fashion Week. The runway show was notable for Ye's decision to wear a T-shirt with the phrase "White Lives Matter" emblazoned on the back. He later doubled down on his his support of the message, deemed hate speech by anti-hate organization ADL, as well as mocking an editor at Vogue who had criticized him. The fashion world has since begun to turn on Ye, with model Gigi Hadid calling him a "joke" and Supreme's creative director Tremaine Emory branding him an "insecure narcissist."
It seems it is not just those at the top of the industry that are speaking out. In a new report from Rolling Stone, a raft of young designers have suggested that the Yeezy brand is guilty of "borrowing" or taking undue influence in their work and neither crediting nor paying them for it.
Francisco Mateo Baca, who also works under the name Franky Baca, says he believes the design of the reflective wraparound YZY SHDZ sunglasses came from samples of work he shared online. Lil Uzi Vert and Steve Lacy were seen wearing YZY SHDZ at New York Fashion Week, where a range of influencers were invited to sample the product as part of a marketing blitz. Baca told Rolling Stone he was surprised to see the images of the shades on social media as he had recently been invited to share some of his ideas with creatives, including Ye, at Yeezy HQ in L.A.
Baca says he was invited by producer and designer Digital Nas, a Ye collaborator since he released Donda, who told him he was searching for new designers and wanted to meet with him. "I’m talking to their creatives and stuff and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is nice. We love this.’" Baca is quoted as saying. "They were telling me, ‘Yeah, Ye’s going to love this.’ So I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ And then, next thing I know, I see pictures of my glasses design on social media."
Baca began his own social media campaign to establish that he had designed a similar style of shades and that his work was not, as it may have seemed, copying the YZY SHDZ. He included screenshotted text messages from Digital Nas in which he highlighted the similarities between his work and the new Yeezy shades to which he received the reply "That's life." Baca says he isn't accusing Yeezy of plagiarism but that he believes the team there are "walking on eggshells" around West and that they're scared to "cause any disturbance because they don't want to be cut from the team." He added that there’s "endless possibilities" as to their similar sunglasses designs.
Legendary6ix, a Harlem-based brand, has shared a similar story, this time involving hats. Back in May they posted on social media about being invited to a Donda event in Chicago and taking 200 hats to be used during the performance. After the show the head of the brand and West discussed a potential collaboration and began exchanging ideas. Only after the conversations went cold did Legandary6ix see a hat sharing with flames on the brim, similar to one of their own, as part of Yeezy's first collection in partnership with Gap.
"Instead of doing it with us he stole our idea and made his own hat," Legendary6ix's Instagram post states.
Speaking with Rolling Stone Baca said he had received messages from Legndary6ix after sharing his negative experience with Yeezy. He said he was aware of how hard it is to copywrite ideas and that there is little recourse for a designer at his level. “I think a lot of these people were suffering in silence," he told the publication. "Because nobody really wants to go up against Ye.”
The FADER has reached out to Ye's team for comment.