UnCamofluaged and Unfazed: How Kylie Jenner Stole My Classmate’s Brand Identity, PluggedNYC
Written by Greg Harris
Attending St. John’s University is an honor within itself to be a part of the academic prestige and the storied history that embodies Queens, New York school. Between the stop lights of Utopia Parkway and Union Turnpike was the study halls, classrooms, and dorms of some of the brightest that NYC has to offer but it also became the nucleus of many creatives that were breaking into their own in a matter of four years.
In recent years these groundbreaking students have ranged from the likes of fashion maven and Kanye West affiliate Jalil Peraza, men’s fashion influencer Igee Okafor, fashionista and style/beauty expert Alyssa Neilson, Billboard Magazine’s go to writer/reporter Adelle Platon, and now we have Tizita Balemlay, who’s brand has been blazing the threads of our timelines with Kylie Jenner accused of stealing her designing concepts.
For those who are just coming to the party due to the scandal and getting welcomed to the presence of Plugged NYC, it’s safe to say for the past two years that they have been a staple in young woman’s fashion. From making smoking look sexy with their Backwood Mami paint designs to their abstract yet flossy jumpsuits and accessories to their world famous Nikki camouflage drops that have been adored by Rhianna, Keke Palmer, Kehlani, Kylie Jenner and more. The creative direction for the brand reaches beyond a benchmark where some independent designers won’t take the time, money, and sacrifice to produce these type of materials in this fashion.
For example, imagine the seams and cuts that had to happen to create pieces such as the Henrey collection that included a sharp, fitted, and thick leather material for the skirts, and tops that included the namesake branding that looked like thick race car seat belts. Seeing the matter of Tiz being able to blend the assets of two different worlds and presenting it in a fashion where it comes of as sleek, edgy, and ready to slay shows one that her brand is beyond a (former) famous client of hers ripping it off. It’s more than that, it’s a wave and influence she has earned in a short matter of time.
As for those who are aware, this is not the first time that Kylie has been in headlines about hijacking the origins of design because this has happened before with Vlada Haggerty and her dripping lips imagery used in Kylie’s campaign. After this happened, Haggerty’s attorney threatened to take legal action but shortly after Kylie went to social media to follow Haggerty’s work, and the problem soon diffused. Tiz is under the same line of fire where her creative and intellectual property has been stolen and seeing a fellow classmate of mine go through this is unsettling. Tiz and I weren’t best friends but we were creatives attending the same school who respected, helped and admired one another’s rise to success.
The responsibility of balancing school and maintaining a brand is easier said than done, especially when your brand becomes a featured clothing line on ASOS before you graduate. Coming from a position where you go through your own blood, sweat, and tears to see something you made from scratch prosper and to have to be carbon copied, one can feel discouraged by the incident or empower to continue to create and become the influencer they set out to be. In the words of Tiz, “I woke up to bitches looking like me” *Carti Voice*. This goes to show you she’s aware of the circumstance and the money and power the Kardashians have, but it still doesn’t separate the fact she laid the blueprint out as they stole it. Independent designers and creatives, we have the power to curate the world, let’s continue to do so and push beyond the limits that Calabasas could never create.
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