The fourth-annual Fashion Tech Forum made its West-Coast debut on Friday in Los Angeles with a packed schedule of panel discussions and keynotes covering the two industries' convergence; but one of the discussions concluded with a pretty major disruption — and not the type you might expect from a tech conference.
Khloe Kardashian's Good American co-founder Emma Grede took part in a panel titled, "The New Empowerment: Women at the Helm of Brands and Communities," during which she discussed how being a woman helped her come up with some of the concepts behind the brand, like inclusive sizing and showing the product on various models on its website.
But the panel had a surprisingly controversial ending: When Marta Goldschmied, the founder of denim brand Made Gold, took the audience Q&A portion as an opportunity to confront Grede IRL about Good American "taking inspiration" from smaller brands.
Earlier this year, Made Gold, which also has a female-empowerment slant, alleged that Good American copied its signature lace-up jeans via an article in Refinery29. In the story, Goldschmied's rep, Clara Jeon, explained how Goldschmied struggled to get the jeans produced; but once they were, they quickly attained Instagirl fame, being worn by Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin.
When we caught up with Goldschmied over the phone on Monday, she explained that she got a last-minute invite to attend the conference with a friend and didn't come with the intention of confronting Grede, but felt the panel's Q&A portion would be a "safe place" to ask the question. "We were talking abut women empowerment," she explained. "I haven’t felt that empowered by women who have a big platform [such as Grede and Kardashian]." Her goal was to start a discussion by asking, "how to bridge the gap between independent women designers that bigger corporations take inspiration from, and how to work together." She claims that by speaking out to Grede she didn't intend to be confrontational, but rather to put forth the idea that bigger companies should work with smaller designers rather than take their ideas. Grede dodged the question and the panel ended.
Goldschmied also noted that the brand has co-opted other styles in addition to the lace-ups that were specific to Made Gold. "Obviously they're inspired by or fans of my work," she said, referring to the Good American co-founders. But, she explained, "It's not just me; I don't think Good American should work with me, but empower those female independent designers that would love to be part of your team."
Goldschmied confirmed to Fashionista that as of "a few months ago," she is no longer with Made Gold and has a new project in the works. She didn't provide details on her departure but the brand took on a significant investment in May of this year.
Made Gold isn't the only brand that has accused Good American of copying this year. Destiney Bleu of Dbleudazzled took to social media claiming that Good American copied her sparkly bodysuit design after Kardashian borrowed bodysuits from Bleu (receipts here), who has also made items for Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. The implication is that Kardashian acquired the bodysuits in order to copy them.
Things got real when Kardashian's (and Good American's) lawyer Marty Singer fired off a cease-and-desist letter — published by TMZ — calling Bleu's actions malicious and tortious and her statements false and defamatory. As for Friday's events with Goldschmied, a rep for Good American had no comment. Bleu Tweeted the above.