jeremy scott: skate-art theft

Apparently, Jeremy Scott’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection was inspired by “the posters and skate decks West Coast surfers, skaters, and punks used to tack on their walls” and has been hailed as one of his best and most cohesive collections to date. However, parts of the collections are strikingly similar (or exactly the same?) to the work of father/son design duo Jim and Jimbo Phillips, graphic artists from California. The pair create graphics for skate brand Santa Cruz, including the iconic ‘Screaming Hand’ logo (above).

This image shows pieces from Scott’s collection, together with pieces of the Phillips’ artwork. The resemblance is uncanny, right? While doing some research for this post, reading show reports and blog coverage of the collection, at no point has Scott credited the Phillips’ or mentioned them directly as a source of inspiration. The blogosphere is currently going nuts over this, and with fair reason. It’s difficult to draw the line between paying homage to something and blatantly ripping it off, but when a designer has rehashed the work of an artist (who has already been doing this for 30 years) and not named that artist as an inspiration, it really is difficult to defend.

One of the issues I have with the collection is that the pieces in and of themselves are not particularly new, as in, Scott hasn’t attempted to redefine silhouettes or anything of that nature. Instead, he has stuck what is essentially someone else’s work onto pretty standard shapes. Isn’t it the same principal as me walking into a t-shirt printing shop and asking them to print Phillips’ work? At it’s very essence, isn’t it kind of basically just stealing? Isn’t it just… y’know, totally wrong?

Of course, it isn’t the first time that high fashion has taken an idea born from subculture or ‘da streets’ or whatever, and used it to make money. It’s something I’ve always had an issue with, as I wrote in my blog about Holly Fulton’s Autumn/Winter 13 collection. At least, though, most of the time (I’d like to think) designers are just sort of taking the idea of something, rather than taking an artist’s livelihood and using it for their own gain.

I’m pretty sure that fashion designers and houses wouldn’t be so stoked if the tables were turned. I don’t know how true this next anecdote is (great journalism, right?) but allegedly, when Palace Skateboards started producing their Chanel logo t-shirts, someone from the Chanel press office got wind of it and swiftly nipped it in the bud. The t-shirts were discontinued and have gone on to sell for loads of money on Ebay. My point is, if Palace (or other brands or whoever) can’t rip off the logo of a massive, established fashion house, why is it okay for it to be the other way around?

I have always been a fan of Scott’s work, but I find this whole thing really hard to swallow. Of course, it’s impossible to have an ‘Inspiration Police’ who keep everyone in check and serve justice to anyone found plagiarizing the work of others – but would it really be too much to ask that someone like Jeremy Scott, someone hailed as one of fashion’s ‘true originals’, would actually cultivate original ideas?

Images from Tumblr, Santa Cruz & Polyvore. See more of the original work here & here.