Belgian Designer Accuses Virgil Abloh of Copying. Again.


Professor Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute, was quoted in a The New York Times article about the accusations made by Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck that Virgil Abloh, lead men’s wear designer for Louis Vuitton, has copied his work.

On Aug. 7, Mr. Van Beirendonck, who is the head of the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, posted an image of one of his own designs, a shirt with the words “I HATE FASHION COPYCATS” appliquéd on the front.

The next day, he posted an image on Instagram of a look from the Louis Vuitton men’s show next to another of his designs, from a 2016 collection. Both of the looks featured men’s suits in primary colors: his in red, Mr. Abloh’s in blue. Each featured a small figurine sewed to the front of the jacket. The implication, of artistic theft, was clear.

Since 2018, Mr. Abloh, 39, has been the lead men’s wear designer for Louis Vuitton, the flagship brand of LVMH. He has one of the most powerful jobs in the industry, and his tenure has been successful. “He’s standing at the pinnacle, and therefore he casts a long shadow, and he’s a target for everyone,” said Susan Scafidi, the president of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School.

Mr. Abloh, one of the first Black men to lead a global luxury brand, has degrees in civil engineering and architecture and a background in streetwear, including his own brands, Off-White and Pyrex Vision, and as creative director of Mr. West’s company Donda. “There is a little bit of snobbery about the fact that Virgil didn’t train as a designer and ‘pay his dues’ to the industry in that way,” Ms. Scafidi said.

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