Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane isn’t the kind of designer you’d want to mess with–he takes his designs and the control of the fashion house he helms very seriously. Who could forget that infamous open letter to Cathy Horyn?
But Slimane’s ire doesn’t stop at fashion critics–and now, Parisian boutique Colette is learning the hard way. For fall, Colette carried about 300 “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” parody t-shirts. Slimane, unsurprisingly, wasn’t amused–and Colette creative director Sarah Andelman has reached out to WWD to go public with her side of the feud.
It turns out Slimane and YSL hit back at Colette–hard. “We have been excommunicated,” Andelman told the trade. Saint Laurent’s commercial director first contacted her requesting the removal of the shirts from the online shop. Andelmen complied, selling the remainder in the boutique. Then, on September 25, CEO Francesca Bellettini sent Andelmen a letter “accusing her of selling counterfeit products that ‘seriously damaged’ the YSL brand and confirming the end of their business relationship.”
So here’s how YSL has iced out the French boutique: First, it canceled Colette’s entire spring 2014 order totaling over $285,738 at wholesale. Andelman was also uninvited from the Saint Laurent spring fashion show on Monday. And, in a move that has us wondering, “Can they even do that?,” it’s banned Colette from selling a recent issue of indie mag Document covered by artist Joe Goode and photographed by Slimane. (Seriously, can they do that?)
The trade points out that Colette has previously sold other parody tees, like “Céline Dion” and “Homiés,” as well as those “Karl Who?” tees, without retribution from designers of those houses. And it’s not like Colette is the only boutique to stock the popular tees alongside Saint Laurent–WWD specifically names Browns, Selfridges, and Luisa Via Roma–which, so far, haven’t come forward with similar stories of being punished.
Andelman added, without naming names, that Saint Laurent isn’t the only major label that’s become more controlling–some have reportedly asked her to remove Instagram photos of their product. It seems like it’s starting to threaten the independence of boutiques to carry the product they wish to provide to their customers. And, unlike banning a critic like Horyn, cutting off relationships with valuable buyers–in 15 years Colette has bought over $3.9 million worth of YSL at wholesale–could seriously affect business.
As Andelman asks WWD, “Should we accept fashion dictatorship?”
YSL did not comment on the story.