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How an Instagram account has luxury designers running scared

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

Image: @Diet_Prada/Instagram

WORDS BY BIANCA O’NEILL

cc: Dolce & Gabbana.

The most influential Instagrammer to emerge this year? Diet Prada. Hands down, bar none.

If you haven’t encountered this Instagram account in your travels yet, the first thing you should do is follow them immediately here, and then wait anxiously for their latest epic burns – and some excellent water cooler conversation.

Run by an “anonymous fashion industry insider”, this account exposes high-end designers who seemingly spend their time unceremoniously ripping each other off. And for an industry that spends a lot of time ribbing Zara for doing the same thing, it’s an interesting (and occasionally dangerous) perspective.

Take, for example, a post last month about one of Dolce & Gabbana’s recent installations. It featured a fairly similar graffiti aesthetic to Gucci’s collab with Trevor Andrew, who was riffing off séances and the afterlife for his GucciGhost collection.

Stefano Gabbana immediately responded via a series of comments underneath the post, claiming that Gucci in fact copied them, and demanded an apology. Diet Prada responded by creating a #pleasesaysorrytome tee, donating the proceeds to an IVF clinic that helps LGBT parents conceive – and those who have followed their disappointing comments regarding gay families will surely enjoy this footnote.

[PS: If you’d like to witness a massive designer reply to random Instagram trolls as if he has nothing better to do in his life, please enjoy the original thread here.

This fearlessness has made Diet Prada one of the most revered amongst the fashion elite – and one of the most rapidly growing accounts on Instagram – and is possibly only achievable due to the account’s ‘anonymous’ status.  However, the duo behind the account aren’t anonymous anymore.

Everything surfaces at some point – and when Gucci taps you for its latest campaign, something was eventually going to give.

We now know that the account was originated by Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler all the way back in 2014, but is now run solely by Liu. As far as I could tell, both of their accounts are private on Instagram, but as The Fashion Law pointedly notes, they are frequently clad in Prada on their personal channels.

It’s an interesting tension – the idea of creating an Instagram account solely to call out copycat designers, and then appearing to preference designers who host you front row (as Prada has), or pay you to cover its latest collection backstage (as Gucci has).

So can they be trusted any more than any other account busting out sponsored posts 24/7? It’s hard to call. Following the announcement that they were collaborating with Gucci on September 21, came the now-famous D&G dig, followed by a second.

Sure, they called out Gucci for copying Prada’s sunglasses advertisement less than a month after the partnership, but it was a fairly light dig, and more than likely, a subtle attempt to feign non-partisanship.

The emerging question here is whether Diet Prada will fall to the temptation of the spoils – or will they remain as cutting as ever? Many outlets have speculated about the potential for legal action to proceed as cause for defamation – particularly in the wake of the D&G scandal, and its resulting worldwide coverage. It remains a fact that not many, if any, of the designs that Diet Prada are calling out are actually classified as ‘copies’. Legally, anyway.

So how is this changing the face of luxury fashion? Well, it seems the designers remain in three distinct camps.

Firstly, there’s the Stefano Gabbana camp – full of outrage and potential legal action.

Secondly, there’s the Gucci/Prada camp – hoping to utilise a collaboration to their strategic advantage, and possibly avoid negative coverage on the account. Thus far, it certainly seems they receive some level of favourable treatment.

And lastly, there’s the Riccardo Tisci camp: quietly following, and then subtley shade-throwing by liking posts that call out designers like Off-White for trademark infringement.

Frankly, in my opinion, THAT’s where the real stories lie…

Follow Bianca’s fashion journey over at @_thesecondrow, or listen to her podcast at @thefashionpodcast.

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