Fashion Designer Silvia Ulson Accused Of Plagiarizing Latest Swimwear Collection

Swimwear brand Bfyne accused Brazilian fashion designer Silvia Ulson of plagiarism after showing her latest swimwear collection at Miami Swimming Week on July 12.

A Bfyne representative told HuffPost in a statement that Ulson’s latest collection has striking similarities to its 2017 “Sahara” collection, inspired by the brand’s Nigerian culture.

“This is very important to us. We want to bring sexy to dashiki prints and change the way prints are printed, eventually turning them into something we have never seen before,” said the representative of Bfyne.

According to OkayAfrica, a loose pullover originated in West Africa and is a comfortable work top for men. According to the website, it is “recognized as a unique and unique African.”

“We live and breathe our culture, and our mission is to showcase through our design and instrument printing,” adds Bfyne’s representative.

For reference, you can see one of Bfyne’s suits on the right and Ulson’s – with feather headdresses – :

We must admit that the case against Ulsen is very strong. The prints are not only almost identical, but the cuts look the same. Here are a few comparisons:

“We were surprised to find out how another designer showed replicas during the Miami swimming week and called it her work,” said the Bfyne representative, adding that she and her team were “completely fussed”.

The representative also called on Ulson to wear a feathered headwear on the model at the fashion show, which suggests that the accessories are designed to “[spoof] people think that printing and design are the inspiration of Native Americans.”

At the end of her presentation, Ulson shared inspirational images of the collections on Instagram, which have been deleted. These photos show a variety of color samples, beadwork details and images of Brazilian natives wearing traditional headwear.

“Brazilianness. Indians use body painting as a way of expressing expressions related to different cultural expressions in society.” According to HuffPost’s translation, Ulson wrote the title in Portuguese. “For each event, there is a specific type of painting: mourning, hunting, marriage, death. All the earthen rituals are represented in their bodies in the form of paintings, which is the strongest artistic expression of the Indians. Paint Made of urucum [achiote, red plant], jenipapo [brown fruit] or babaçu [Brazil palm]. Art of living!!!”

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Ulson’s account also shows images of her personal meetings with the Krukutu tribe.

A representative of Bfyne said they found out about Ulson’s collection on Instagram, and the models who worked for them and attended the Ulson show reminded them. The representative also said that another member of the Bfyne team flew to Miami to meet with Ulson, who claimed that the design was her own original work and did not apologize.

In terms of Bfyne’s allegations, HuffPost has contacted Ulson’s team, but did not receive a response as of press time.

The whole situation only reminds people that there are still plagiarism and misappropriation in the fashion world. Ulson is not the first brand or designer to be accused of being one (or two). Remember when Marc Jacobs sent most of the white models to the runway, their hairstyles were designed locally? Or, when Victoria’s secret sent Karlie Kloss to the runway, wearing a feathered headdress, is it different from Ulson’s? Those fast fashion brands that completely tear off those fashionable Balenciaga boots, “those who look like socks?”

As we have written before, designers need to be more transparent about their inspiration and take on their mistakes.

LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, Associate Professor of African Studies at Williams College, told HuffPost in February, “We are definitely inspired by others – including scholars… we should not plagiarize intellectually or culturally. We should really pay for honors. And a tribute to the cause.”

The Bfyne team will agree. When asked what they hope others can learn from their situation, the representative said: “Encourage, but don’t copy.”

The story has been updated since Ulson deleted an image from her Instagram account.

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