Black creator and entrepreneur Lamont “Tory” Stapleton has called out luxury fashion house Balenciaga for replicating a design of his without his permission and selling the appropriated design at 25 times the price.
Stapleton took to Instagram to make his followers aware of his issues with Balenciaga and made a public appeal for a connection to the brand. He captioned his video “@balenciaga we need to talk” and went on to give details of his entrepreneurial journey.
According to him, he created a black crew neck with the word “FREE” embroidered as part of his line “Struggle is Common” which even received praise from celebs. Stapleton started his brand in 2019 after losing a friend to a long battle with addiction.
“My goal was to remind people that they’re not alone and to encourage them to face their problems head-on if they truly wish to be FREE,” he noted in the video, which showed Stapleton posing with various celebs including Kanye West, Khole Kardashian, and Paris Hilton while wearing the shirt back in 2019.
Fast forward to 2021, Stapleton also showed shots of celebs like Diddy and Da Baby wearing a shirt that looks exactly like the one he showed previously. According to him, he was made aware of the replica shirts by his friends who were tagging him because they assumed the design was his.
“Multiple friends sent me a link to Balenciaga’s website where they were selling the exact same black crew neck as well as multiple variations of my design for up to 25 times the price,” he narrated. “Then I started receiving targeted ads on my phone trying to sell me what was clearly mine. Strange!.”
Stapleton would later find out that the replica in question was that of Balenciaga which was shown on a runway as part of the brand’s Fall/Winter 2021 show. This was a year after Stapleton’s brand debuted.
He ends the post by asking the public for help, noting that “I say all that to say if anyone knows anyone at Balenciaga, can you please have them reach out to me. We need to have a conversation. All too often, the little people get stepped on by big brands and I just want to ensure that this is not another example of that, but rather just a big misunderstanding. Thank you for listening,” he concluded.