Imagine seeing your African-inspired creation on a European runway. Imagine that instead of your name on the label there is the signature of a major fashion brand.  Senegalese designer Sarah Diouf experienced this exact scenario when she discovered her design on a runway at Paris Fashion Week. In a letter on Okay Africa, she expressed her shock at the prominent French-based Yves Saint Laurent’s (YSL) debut of (what appeared to be) a replica of her Tongoro MBURU bag.

MBURU means [bread] in wolof. The name of the bag is inspired by the #Dakar youth hustling spirit — who wakes up to earn their ‘bread’ every single day. The MBURU bag is an essentials keeper ; your phone, your cards and maybe some change (…) all you need to go out there and make it happen for yourself — with style.” – Diouf on Okay Africa

Source: Okay Africa

From the designer herself:

“On Feb 28, YSL debuted their new Fall-Winter 17 collection in Paris, with a crowd bowing down to Anthony Vaccarello’s extravagant über-luxe aesthetic.

Two days later, I was receiving a text from my assistant, inviting me to peruse some of the looks details.
I couldn’t believe my eyes « But this is OUR bag…». Yep, no doubt. This is our bag.
A perfect replica of Tongoro’s MBURU bag : our signature accessory. And there is no chance they could have seen it elsewhere, because « Where else have you seen a 10x 60cm long baguette bag before? » Exactly.

I remember coming to my friends, editors, and any other person I would try to convince it was the next it-statement-accessory, getting laughed and looked at with perplex eyes. Again, « Where else have you seen a 10x 60cm long baguette bag before? »”


Tongoro MBURU Bag. Source:

In our opinion, the bags are strikingly similar in appearance and texture – so much so that they look to be from the same designer. While it is no secret that fashion breeds inspiration/imitation which then breeds fashion, it is also no secret that stolen concepts are a huge issue in the industry.

“We all know trends come and go, but when it comes to something that never came from anywhere else but yourself, you feel robbed from inside. And that’s a feeling I have never experienced before.
I think about all the times I scrolled over designer Aurora James posts complaining about how Zara stole her Brother Vellies designs, and thought « Wow… » thinking it only happens to others. Well, today I am the other.

Right after gathering my thoughts, I knew I couldn’t let this go. Because the purpose and the story behind what I do is bigger than an über-luxe aesthetic, and I won’t let anyone rob me from the only weapon that keeps me going and take a stand for a place some only look at for inspiration : my creativity.”

Do you see an eerie resemblance?



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13 Comments on "So, Is YSL Gon’ Pretend They Didn’t Just Rip Off a Senegalese Designer?"

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I have a book on design published in 2010. This exact same shape bag is in that book by some eastern european designer. It’s nothing new.


Love Togoro’s style! Hope that she gets the credit that’s due to her!


Unless this young designer gets her lawyer to send YSL lawyers a cease and desist letter, nothing will change. It is no use her whinging to her friends. She needs to respond like how THEY would respond if she were the plagiarizing party. That’s the only language they respect.


Actually, Chanel has been making this exact same bag since 1990. The Senegalese woman should have done some research before making this claim.

michelle spice

This has been generational. Why are people like you still supporting this type of oppression?

Black Girl With Long Hair

How am I supporting oppression? Did I say that I buy YSL? I don’t…


Instead of stealing it, they could have claborated with her and done great things! THIS MUST STOP! …tired of them taking things and calling it theirs….especially when it comes to “us”.


So, what will happen next?

michelle spice

it took you all long enough to wise up! they are not special turn the
steering and change the course of the ship, they need us we don’t need them…

Eleanor Anderson

White design houses always steal black ideas and make money off them. I read somewhere that they will send assistants Into the urban neighborhoods, ( emphasis on HOOD), to see what the teens are wearing that is not, so called mainstream, and elaborate on it. Next thing you see your unique style in the fashion mags. Soulshadows55, you’re sooo right, they have stolen from Africa, and African Americans, and never even acknowledged our input. Yet they try to say the black race is paracitic, and never makes any contributions to the world.

maria joseph

The same happens in the UK and I guess other countries where there are people of African descent. You have big trend companies who pay their researches good money to trawl the urban areas looking to see what we are wearing. They visit the clubs to catch the music we are listening to and learn our latest dances. They constantly latch onto our lingo which eventually becomes part of their
vocabulary then they have the cheek to claim it’s street/urban. How they’d survive without us I don’t know.

Fufu Oware

Yup, they robbed her idea, passed it as their own. Call them out girl!!!


This kind of theft has been going on for centuries. Europeans/whites have stolen our bodies, our land, our inventions and our style. The only difference now is that we can definitely show proof of that theft. You can’t shame them because they have no shame. But if we stop purchasing their products we can make a much more effective financial statement.