Earlier this year, Fisayo Longe, the creative director of U.K.-based Kai Collective, called out Boohoo after the fast-fashion company released product that appeared to copy the indie label's artful proprietary prints. Now, the designer's bringing attention to the similarities between her work and Fendi's latest collection by Kim Jones.
Hours after the Italian luxury house unveiled its Resort 2022 lookbook, Longe and others took to social media after noticing prints that, to many, were very reminiscent of Kai Collective.
Since its launch in 2016, Kai Collective has risen quickly through the sartorial ranks, having become a favorite among influencers and celebrities, including beauty influencer Jackie Aina and rapper Saweetie. The U.K.-based brand really took off last year when it launched its mesh marble print, known as the Gaia. The bespoke pattern has notes of the groovy '60s and comes in body-clinging silhouettes that are confident and empowering.
Kai Collective was actually meant to launch a Gaia robe next month, Longe revealed on Instagram: "We already have it ready to ship so should we release it today? Gaia dropped and the fashion industry just ran out of ideas?"
Kai Collective's Gaia was an instant closet must-have and hot-ticket summer item. Knowing this, Longe went to extensive lengths to obtain a design registration for the U.K., E.U. and the U.S. Despite these efforts, Boohoo released an almost identical copy of her prints back in February; armed with the proper legal protection, Longe went after the billion-dollar retailer, sending a cease and desist letter and demanding £30,000 in damages and legal fees, according to documents leaked by The Fashion Law. Per The Native, Kai Collective and Boohoo entered discussions and negotiations in March.
"I really really want small businesses to know that we have rights, because right now it feels like we don't. I want them to know that depending on the design, it might be worth spending on protecting it," Longe said in an interview with The Native regarding the Boohoo case.
"When we launched Gaia, there was nothing like it on the market at the time. There have since been so many copies but I am really surprised to see a brand like Fendi that I have looked up to for many years, do such a similar copy," Longe said in a statement to Fashionista. "Getting press and recognition for your work takes years and it's just insane that when you finally get recognition, it is copied by brands that are much bigger and more powerful than yours. The items are Resort 2022 so if they are released, we will send a cease and desist. We currently have ongoing litigation with another brand but as a small brand, it is just not sustainable to keep incurring legal fees."
Fashionista has reached out to Fendi for comment.