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Of all of the merchandise sold at Kanye West’s Life of Pablo pop-up shop two weekends ago, it’s a denim jacket that’s stirred up the most controversy.
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 Los Angeles and resorting to sex work to survive.
The backlash over West’s “knockoff” is being led by photographer Jim Goldberg, who published a photo of Tweaky Dave’s now-infamous, profanity-covered jacket in his 1995 tome, Raised by Wolves. After spotting West wearing a one-off replica of the jacket created by Australian artist Pauly Bonomelli earlier this year, Goldberg postured that ‘Ye’s Life of Pablo jacket was a rip-off.
A photo posted by Pauly (@himumimdead) on
In an interview with i-D magazine, Goldberg argued that West appropriated a piece that represented the plight of homeless youth for his own profit.
“For the jacket to become sold as fashion — it really put me over the edge,” he told the glossy. Goldberg, who was gifted the jacket by Dave before his death, went on to say he feels responsible for protecting Dave’s legacy. “Ultimately all I would want from them is acknowledgement of Dave, and maybe they give something to homeless kids.”
Goldberg explained that he wanted to pursue legal action, though that might prove difficult given it is not an exact replica. Fashion’s long and complicated history with appropriation — cultural, economic or otherwise — has proven it’s difficult to distinguish outright copying from sampling.
A photo posted by Jim Goldberg (@goldbergjim) on
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