Designer, Demna Gvasalia, was given the opportunity to present his collections twice at Paris Fashion Week. Once with his own label Vetements and a second time with famous fashion brand Balenciaga. With all eyes on him Gvasalia disappointed, instead of using these opportunities to push for a more diverse fashion industry he casted only white models. Between the two fashion shows, not one woman of color walked.
To add insult to injury, Gvasalia’s collection of bags for the Balenciaga show looked eerily familiar to popular shopping bags in Thailand called “Sampheng bag.” (Ironically the shopping bags can be purchased for less than a dollar in Thailand and Balenciaga’s go for almost $3,000.)
The bags resemble one another so much that copyright concerns were raised. During a press conference on March 8, the Department of Intellectual Property Thailand director-general Nantawan Sakunka, said the case was not considered a copyright violation because the material is obviously different, Thai PBS and Sanook reported.
Gvasalia may have avoided copyright infringement, however he seems to have been very culturally insensitive. Not only did he neglect to reflect a diverse range of models, he culturally appropriated a piece of Thai consumer culture. So just when you guess it couldn’t get more thoughtless, the dude went and proved you wrong.