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Kanye West Caught Up In Stolen Design Allegations

The latest inspiration behind Yeezy’s apparel came from . . . Nike?!?

Kanye West Caught Up In Stolen Design Allegations
[Photo: rodrigoferrari/Wikimedia Commons]

The recent success of Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, with its undeniable cultural cachet, has been a boon for his partner Adidas. But all along, it’s been something of a lingering sore spot for West, who has rubbed the success in the face of his former partner, Nike, with lines like,  “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, they line up for days. Nike out here bad, they can’t give shit away.” But in a turn of irony, Yeezy seems to have stolen a design from Nike–and West has since acknowledged the error.

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The controversy around the design began late last week, amidst his Make America Great Again tour, when West shared some anatomical sketches that he said were foundational to Yeezy’s future clothing designs.

But as it turns out, these sketches were actually created in 2005, by designer Tony Spackman during his time at Nike. Spackman has stated that his original image had a date that had been photoshopped out.

Ever-controversial Kanye is no stranger to digging in the far reaches of the internet for inspiration.  Is Ye just showing his creative process with inspiration images or claiming the work to be his own?  Photoshopping out the title of the sketch in the top left corner is pretty much a dead giveaway lol.  The original by designer @tonyspackman was done in 2005 for a @nike collection called "Living Apparel" which eventually became "Nike React", a running collection grounded in freedom of movement and human comfort.  Can we just call it Yee????y now? ???? • #yeezy #kanyewest #kanye #kimye #theft #inspiration #illustration #design #fashiondesign #sportswear #streetwear #athleisure #nike #streetstyle #running #nikerunning #hypebeast #highsnobiety #snobshots #wiwt #ootd #copycat #knockoff #wtf #dietprada

A post shared by Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada) on

West himself acknowledged the controversy.

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Presumably, the sketch was not just the creation of Spackman, but the IP of Nike, given that Spackman created the work while developing Nike’s Living Apparel line (which became Nike’s new React line, just this year). In theory, it could also have repercussions for Yeezy’s partner, Adidas. In 2014, Nike sued three of its ex-designers for allegedly taking designs on their way to the German sportswear company. The matter was settled between Nike and Adidas confidentially in 2015.

Then again, a 13-year-old sketch that was available on a public website hardly seems like a protected trade secret that Nike would chase down. It appears this was more just the cherry on top of a particularly controversial week of West tweets.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day

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