Back in 2013, L.A.-based artist Kesh made a splash with her capsule collection of graphic black-and-white T-shirts and hats for American Apparel. From models like Cara Delevingne (frequently seen in multiple pieces from the collaboration) and Jourdan Dunn, to musicians like Jessie J and Wiz Khalifa, it seemed everyone was Instagramming Kesh’s signature print for the global retailer. It was sold in American Apparel flagship stores around the world, from Tokyo to Berlin to New York.
Today, Kesh posted a photo on her Instagram featuring her $30 T-shirt, next to Versace’s new, nearly identical Medusa cotton-jersey T-shirt, which retails for $650. “A friend sent an image of it to my phone,” Kesh tells the Cut. “I woke up to it this morning thinking it was another cheap Chinese rip off. Then I saw the £440 price tag and that it was on the Selfridges website."
Versace has not reached out to Kesh about this yet, but here’s what the artist has to say to them:
“I have always had a deep admiration for Versace. It's an iconic brand that has stood the test of time. I am deeply disappointed in this. This is not only artwork from a show that took me two years to develop and create. It is not only artwork from a collection that I created for American Apparel to provide something affordable and accessible to supporters of my work. But this is also my face! I can't understand how something like this could happen.”
We must admit, the similarities are quite striking. We reached out to Versace’s PR team for a comment on this, but they did not respond. As for Kesh, she says they can expect to hear from her lawyers ASAP. “I am an independent artist and this is my work, my passion, my livelihood. I must stand up not only for myself, but for all the other independent artists who are being ravaged by these huge companies for nothing more than profit.”