Hip-hop artists are all about paying homage to music greats who came before them. Kanye West's early production borrowed heavily from artists he grew up listening to, sampling everyone from Curtis Mayfield to The Doors on his way to stardom.
But there's a pretty big difference between sampling and outright jacking someone's style, and fashion retailer Forever 21 doesn't appear to know the difference. New merchandise was revealed on Forever 21's website, and was quickly identified as a blatant rip-off of Kanye gear:
Word spread quickly on the swagger-jacking, and Twitter users lost their minds at the lack of creativity on Forever 21's part:
This might have been written off as an innocent mistake if it wasn't made by a company with a history of trying to leech off the creativity of other people. Forever 21 has been routinely accused of theft within the industry, with their list of enemies including Thrasher, Puma, and Tumblr artists.
This isn't even the first time the company has been accused of ripping off Kanye West specifically. Back in July 2016, Forever 21 came under fire for selling shirts that looked just a little too similar to Kanye's The Life Of Pablo merch. Fans have stayed on their case since, and Forever 21 might as well be the official dealer of bootleg Kanye gear at this point. These jokes all pre-date this new Forever 21 drop by at least several weeks:
Look, it's one thing for the average person to look for a cheaper and more readily-available version of Kanye's merchandise. His gear tends to sell out fast and is costly to boot, so the instinct to look for the next best thing makes sense. That doesn't excuse a fashion retailer—whose ENTIRE JOB is to create fresh, desirable clothing—for shamelessly peddling someone else's work as their own.
This is the type of move you make if you're a couple guys selling bottled water and t-shirts outside of a summertime concert. When you're a nearly 33-year-old company with 30,000+ employees and 700+ stores, you have to do better than this.