It seems like just about everyone has taken a sip of the Alessandro Michele Kool-Aid, with many convinced that the youth-friendly Gucci Creative Director can do no wrong. He’s just so of the moment. So woke.

From aging Italian glitterati to Instagram-obsessed millennials, Michele’s designs bridge the gap between high fashion and streetwear unlike anything ever before witnessed from a heritage luxury house (way before Supreme x Louis Vuitton, mind you), and the fashion world can’t seem to get enough.

Sure, many of Michele’s flashy, ’70s-inspired prints feel unmistakably fresh, but as for the embellished and embroidered pieces the street style set go gaga for, well, we can’t help but think they look a bit…familiar. Those of us who can remember a time before Instagram – a time where Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan reigned supreme – we have, in fact, seen them before. What’s worse is that we’ve seen them courtesy of one of the most heinous brands ever to penetrate the pop zeitgeist: Ed Hardy.

Popularized in the early 2000s, an era which is making something of a comeback in contemporary fashion right now, Ed Hardy as we know it was born of the unholy union between SoCal tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy and French designer Christian Audigier.

Before he launched the gaudy label, Audigier had already turned the work of another subculture artist, Kenny Howard, better known as Von Dutch, into a lucrative, celebrity-endorsed clothing line. Looking to expand his empire, Audigier licensed Don Ed Hardy’s designs and slapped them on everything from sneakers to jean jackets to, of course, trucker hats. It worked for a while, but once more cringeworthy celebs caught on (*cough*the cast of Jersey Shore*cough*), the trend collapsed as quickly as it had risen. Good thing, because the clothes were, you know, hideous.

“Blasphemy!” you exclaim in disgust. “Ed Hardy is for juice-heads with fake tans who listen to EDM and vacation in Vegas. It’s trash! Our beloved Gucci has nothing in common with the unrelenting garbage fire that is Ed Hardy.”

Oh, it doesn’t? Well, then, take a look at this…


You don’t need to be a Brooklyn hipster to recognize that Ed Hardy’s designs draw from classic American and Japanese tattoo aesthetics. The clothes are covered in popular motifs like skulls, flowers, daggers and classic tattoo lettering. Michele has taken to using many of these exact same icons. That popular denim jacket was even said to have drawn inspiration specifically from one of Harry Styles’ tattoos (take from that what you will).

Embellished Leather

While some of Michele’s more subtly embellished leather jackets are chic, when he’s being more liberal with his patchwork and embroidery, he’s channeling pure Hardy. Just get a load of this distressed brown bomber, which features trademark Ed Hardy graphics, tigers and dragons.

Embroidered Denim

Ed Hardy was second only to True Religion in its love of embroidered denim. Jeans were liberally adorned with flowers, skulls and animals. Sort of sounds like someone else we know, amirite?!


Tigers have become a recurring Gucci motif, even being dubbed “one of Alessandro Michele’s signature details” in product descriptions on the brand’s own website. You know who else loved putting tigers on everything? Ed Hardy.

Trucker Hats

These seem to draw direct, IDGAF inspiration from Hardy’s signature trucker hats, worn in the early 2000s by everyone from Tara Reid to Britney Spears. Nothing said “you won’t like me when I’m off my meds” like an Ed Hardy trucker hat.


So while you may be tempted to drop a couple grand on a Gucci jacket that’s sure to land you a spot in a handful of street style slideshows next fashion week, maybe you should save a few bucks and go for the OG. Ed Hardy is super cheap on eBay these days, and defunct brands from the early 2000s are totally trending anyway. No? OK.

And as for Alessandro Michele: we’re onto you.

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Words by Allyson Shiffman