Brazilian designer Silvia Ulson is facing a ton of backlash after she was accused of stealing a bathing suit design from a popular Nigerian-American label.
When Ulson’s daishiki print bathing suits hit the runways during Miami Swim Week, many couldn’t help noticing its striking resemblance to the Bfyne swimwear line, specifically from their 2017 “Sahara” collection.
“It came to us as a complete surprise how another designer is allowed to showcase replicas and claim it as her work during Miami Swim Week,” a rep for Bfyne told The Huffington Post.
To add insult to injury the looks that were allegedly stolen included tribal-style and dashiki prints, which were placed on white models wearing “Native” headdresses.
In response to the growing controversy and backlash, Ulson released a statement, which appeared at FashionWeekOnline (FWO) and was translated from Portuguese.
“My annual swimwear presentation is for fun only, usually around the theme of Brazilian pride and culture. I’ve done these shows since 2005, just as a way to bring attention to my other clothing — since I don’t sell swimwear — and Brazilian culture.
This year my inspiration was Native American Brazilian, so I went to a tribe and spent two days there. That’s what we used for the headdresses!
So upon returning from there, I made the black-and-white bikinis that were also shown, and thought it would be interesting to have some bikinis with prints mixing the indigenous paintings that they paint on their body. For the Brazilian Indians, each painting has a meaning.”
Designer Accused of Stealing Nigerian Inspired Swimwear Concept . . #SilviaUlson a Brazilian fashion designer who recently debuted her new swimwear line at the #MiamiFashionWeek has been accused of plagiarism by swimwear label #Bfyne.… https://t.co/nPKqbWKa6f IG: MediaGuideStyle pic.twitter.com/CWCRAmJ5TK
— MediaGuideNG (@MediaGuide_NG) July 18, 2018
“I looked for a person here in Brazil who creates in this medium. I spoke with this person called Fernando: he came personally to my store and told me that some days he would come back with some samples.
I paid for his creation and for producing each sample. I was grateful and added those bikinis he made for me in the collection I showed at the show in Miami.
I never imagined that this would be a copy. I did the show on Thursday night. It was a success, and I started and closed the show with my white and black pieces.”
Ulson, also told the publication she is “scared.”
“A stranger came into my house,” she shared. “I have received threats on Instagram, and my goal was simply to put on a fun show, as I have since 2005. I paid for the patterns in question, and it was supposed to be a show of cultural pride. Instead I was sold prints that appear everywhere, and it is possible others have been, too.”
— Da_Skeptunes (@Robin_Volpi) July 18, 2018