Diet Prada is the Instagram account that has become famous for calling out the fashion industry's copycat culture. Now for the first time ever, the people behind the username are speaking up as their true identities in an interview with Business of Fashion.
Meet Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler. Tony and Lindsey met in 2010 while working for Eugenia Kim, Liu, 32, a design director, and Schuyler, 30, a design and product development associate. Diet Prada, named after Miuccia Prada, “the original end-all be-all of everything,” and Diet Coke, “the original imitator,” was born out of Liu and Schuyler's habit of pointing out the nature in which fashion repeats itself and designers generously "borrow" from previous creations. Fast forward, and DP not only focuses on the aforementioned copycat recurrence, but it also shines a light on model abuse, racial discrimination, and cultural appropriation.
During their sit-down with BoF, Liu and Schuyler delve into the beginnings of Diet Prada, transforming the fashion industry, remaining true to their following, the future of the business, and much more. Below we've in turn highlighted the standout comments from the conversation, as you can then read the piece in-full over at Business of Fashion.
On how Diet Prada came to be:
Liu: "We would look at runway shows, just kind of shooting the shit, and we would do these live roasts back and forth sitting in opposite corners. One of us would pull up a show and say, ‘Hey, look at this, it’s so Louis Vuitton Fall 2014...’ We would just shoot comments back and forth. We kind of started it as a joke."
Schuyler: “It definitely was just for the lolz. We were making each other laugh and making the rest of the room laugh."
On hitting 1,000 followers:
Liu: “When we hit a thousand followers we were like, ‘Whoa.’ A thousand is not a lot now. But for us it was more like, ‘Wow, people are watching what we say.’ We had a few key followers.”
On revealing their identities:
Schuyler: “The time was going to come that we’d need to own it, eventually."
Liu: “Ideally, we would like to make this a business. It’s going to be easier to [do that] if we put a face to the names.”
On their reputable following:
Liu: “I mean, basically every major fashion industry professional follows us.”
On referring to themselves as the “love child of Cathy Horyn and Tim Blanks”:
Liu: “We have the unfiltered-ness of Cathy Horyn and I would like to think we have some of the knowledge that Tim Blanks has — the history."
Schuyler: “I think we think about fashion a lot of the same way that Tim does. That everything is building on everything."
On raising awareness surrounding issues that plague the fashion industry:
Liu: “We just kind of realized there was so much more in this industry that needed to be talked about and a lot of these people have serious concerns and they don’t have a voice, they don’t have a platform. So, we’re able to give that to them and highlight issues that the industry otherwise, I mean, for the most part, ignores. Diversity. Representation.”
On calling out whoever and whatever:
Liu: “For us, nothing is sacred. I don’t know why this industry is so self-protective. Every other industry, people say whatever shit they want and they should be able to do that in fashion as well. I think it’s new to them. We’re such a jarring new voice that any kind of hard criticism seems like bullying, but it’s not. It’s just criticism.”
Schuyler: “Not to bring in the ‘special snowflake’ thing, but people are not used to hearing a mean word. And we’re not being mean. I hate saying, ‘We’re just being honest!’ But, you know.”
On transforming the industry:
Schuyler: “I don’t want to tell people what to do or how to live their lives but to help develop that critical eye. I want to be able to love the fashion industry more purely. The more I learn about it, I think, ‘Well this needs to change.’ It needs to change so that I can keep loving it.”
On maintaining trust:
Schuyler: “We want to be transparent and whatever the letter of the law is, we’ll follow it.”
Liu: “We’re not about skirting around the legalities of it, especially as an account that pushes for transparency on different levels. But it’s so new for us, it’s not like we’re being gifted all this stuff and have to say ‘#ad #sponsored.’”
On not considering themselves journalists:
Liu: “Definitely not. We’re just two people with an opinion.”
Schuyler: "I think we use journalistic tactics. But we’re also in an age where there are Tweets on the news. There’s a lot of real journalism that’s not journalism these days.”
On creating a community-driven brand that relies on its audience:
Schuyler: “[Our followers] are all super aware — woke, for the recent parlance. It would be great to give them a place where they can interact directly without us being the mediators of everything. They come to us as a resource and a safe space online.”
On plans for the future:
Liu: “We’ve been around for a few years, but the growth has been exponential only in the past seven months, so everything’s still new. We didn’t have any plan or intention — or vision — when we first started. And, so, we’re just trying to keep it going organically.”
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