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
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? »”
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?