BY JESSICA REDWINE
Kendall and Kylie Jenner are no strangers to controversy, and their most recent collection of t-shirts is no exception. Advertised as vintage styled rocker tees with a Jenner twist, the shirts featured photos of famous musicians with the Jenner’s Instagram photos superimposed on top. Fashionable? Not according to the internet.
Especially when it came out that the images on the shirts had been stolen. The girls appropriated the images of artists such as Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Jim Morrison, and Ozzy Osbourne to promote their brand, but they did so without contacting the artists or paying the licensing for those images.
In the case of Biggie Smalls, they didn’t even attempt to reach out to the estate that his mother currently controls. As she said in an Instagram post of her own, “This is disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!”
Sharon Osbourne, never one to shy away from confrontation, also posted a blurb to social media to discuss the use of her husband’s image on the shirts: “Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss.”
It seems that the stars aren’t the only ones upset. Twitter was in an uproar over the shirts, dragging the sisters through the mud until, eventually, the shirts were pulled from their site. Kendall and Kylie even took to the internet to issue an apology.
"These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists. We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in anyway. [sic] The tee shirts have been pulled from retail and all images have been removed. We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry.”
While it seems the girls are apologetic, this is yet another case of insensitivity and appropriation. Especially in the case of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, where they took a copyrighted image and threw their own logo on top, using the fame of another for profit. It’s a small part of a larger narrative that is very telling toward the fashion industry as a whole.
Over the past several years, many brands have been brought to heel by the internet for cultural appropriation. While companies are becoming more aware of the issues and are showing a measure of sensitivity, there is still a disconnect between the fashion industry and those who stand up for the rights of people everywhere.
As long as there is cultural appropriation, the internet will be there to help correct and inform those who are unaware of the damage that such activity can cause. In the case of Kylie and Kendall, hopefully this will help them to become more aware that appropriation (and outright theft) are not going to be tolerated any longer.