A denim jacket sold at Kanye West’s pop-up shop, Life of Pablo, has been at the center of controversy since the store opened its doors two weekends ago in New York City.
The Hollywood Reporter shares the reason for the denim jacket being such a hot topic.
“The seemingly innocuous $400 jacket, which features track titles scrawled in black sharpie across the back, bears similarity to a jacket belonging to Tweaky Dave, the late, drug addicted teen who fled an abusive home and ended up living on the streets of L.A. and resorting to sex work to survive.”
The outrage due to the reported knockoff by West has been stirred up by the very photographer who snapped a pic of Tweaky Dave wearing his scrawled-on jacket in 1995 and publishing it in Raised by Wolves. The photographer, Jim Goldberg, spotted Kanye wearing the alleged replica of the coat, which was created by Australian artist Pauly Bonomelli, earlier in the year. Goldberg was not impressed and expressed his feeling that “Ye’s Life of Pablo jacket was a rip-off.”
— NatalieBlagsFashion (@FashionBlag) March 31, 2016
The passionate and talented photographer who captured Tweaky so perfectly spoke with i-D magazine and insisted that West used the turmoil and hardship of homeless youth to turn a profit in a case of appropriation.
The publication relays Goldberg’s words.
“For the jacket to become sold as fashion – it really put me over the edge. Ultimately all I would want from them is acknowledgement of Dave, and maybe they give something to homeless kids.”
Goldberg was gifted with the jacket directly from Tweaky Dave before his death and simply wants recognition for what the teen represented. The photographer also shared that although he wants to move forward with legal action against West, he is aware it may be a difficult road because the jacket is not an exact replica of Dave’s. Additionally, the longtime history of controversy in the world of fashion over the ongoing appropriation of culture makes it tough to fully distinguish a copy from a sample.
There is no doubt that Kanye has experienced massive success in the two weeks his pop-up shop has been open. i-D magazine shared the staggering numbers the Life of Pablo brand has pulled in for West, including the controversial piece that has people in an uproar.
“Life of Pablo, in downtown Manhattan. The store was a huge success, and over the course of a single weekend the artist sold over $1 million of Pablo-themed merchandise.”
In true Kanye form, the rapper was sure to rave about his own success via Twitter.
“but there is no other brand that could sell 1 million dollars of clothing in 2 days from 1 location!!!”
— Mixerr Reviews Blog (@MixerrReviews) December 16, 2015
As the magazine and Goldberg state, the true crime is not the replica or copy of the jacket, since the designer of it is a fan of Goldberg and the story associated with the jacket. Bonomelli even mentioned Dave and Goldberg in a post he made that showcased the jacket before handing it over to West. The true controversy comes from the fact that since the time the jacket was worn by Kanye, no mention of the story behind the replica has been made.
“Australian designer Pauly Bonomelli, who is apparently a fan of Jim’s work. Before it made its way to Kanye, Paul posted a picture of the jacket with the caption, ‘R.I.P. Dave.’ By the time Mr West wore it any mention of Dave or Jim has disappeared.”
Goldberg simply wants Tweaky Dave to gain recognition for the jacket and feels that since the homeless heroin addict, who became an icon in the world he knew, gave the jacket to him, he feels that he has to protect the legacy of Dave.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3]