Renowned Belgian designer and member of the Antwerp Six Walter Van Beirendonck called out Virgil Abloh last week, accusing the designer of committing plagiarism in his Louis Vuitton SS21 collection.

Now, Abloh has issued an official statement regarding the accusations via his personal publicist. It reads as follows:

Walter Van Beirendonck’s claims are completely false. They are a hate-filled attempt to discredit my work. The inspiration for my collection comes from the DNA of Louis Vuitton, including the 2005 Louis Vuitton menswear show, and it was clearly outlined in the notes distributed to the press when the show began. This is yet another instance of false equivalence to try to discredit me as a designer.

The collection in question – designed under Marc Jacobs  – does appear to include similar motifs, specifically the monogram teddy bears, which could have served as inspiration for the roster of animals seen in SS21.

If you missed the initial story, Van Beirendonck claimed a variety of elements from Louis Vuitton’s SS21 menswear presentation were ripped off from his own designs. Speaking to Belgian publication Knack Weekend, the designer decried Abloh's runway show and practice of stealing designs. “Copying is nothing new. It's part of fashion. But not like this. Not on that level, with their budgets, their teams, their possibilities. That's what is shocking to me," he posted.

"It's very clear that Virgil Abloh is not a designer," Van Beirendonck continued. "He has no language of his own, no vision. He can't create something of his own season after season and that is painful. As for me, throughout all these years in fashion, I have patiently built up a signature language. That language is mine. It's me. And he takes it, makes a copy of it. You can reinterpret things, do them in a different way. But this is just embarrassing. Meanwhile, Abloh gets a lot of money. He's the one who cashes in."

Alongside the Louis Vuitton SS21 clothing silhouettes and color palette, the Belgian designer pointed out Abloh's plush “Zoooom With Friends” mascots stitched to various jackets and suits, noting the similarities between the tailoring debuted at Walter Van Beirendonck Fall/Winter 2016.

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Van Beirendonck also took to Instagram to blast Abloh, posting a photo of a Peter Saville–copy sequin T-shirt from his Fall 2020 show. Van Beirendonck reiterated the message stitched on the T-shirt in his caption: "I HATE COPYCATS."

Stay tuned as this story develops.

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