American brand Guess recently launched a collection featuring graphic designs by artist Banksy. To much fanfare, the collection was marketed as a collaboration, but according to the British artist, his designs were not authorised.
At the launch of the range last month, Guess chief creative officer Paul Marciano said: "The graffiti of Banksy has had a phenomenal influence that resonates throughout popular culture. This new capsule collection with Brandalised is a way for fashion to show its gratitude."
Banksy, whose real name and identity the artist has been keen to keep out of the public eye, suggested on Instagram shoplifters should visit the Guess boutique on London’s Regent Street, and ‘help themselves,’ i.e. shoplifting.
"They've helped themselves to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?"
Guess stated the collection was created in collaboration with Brandalised, a company which licenses designs by graffiti artists. In response Guess closed its Regent Street store after Banksy’s social media message, covering the windows and securing the premises. Brandalised has yet to publicly comment.
Copyright lawyer Liz Ward, founder of Virtuoso Legal, told the BBC Guess "appear to have legitimately sourced the Banksy artwork via a third party, namely Brandalised, who say they have rights to commercialise and use Banksy's artwork on goods. It isn't known if Banksy approved or even knew about this deal. If he did know about it, then perhaps his comments are there to create some kind of guerrilla marketing campaign. If he didn't know about it, then he must be quite annoyed, especially as such mainstream companies and brands don't accord with his anti-establishment views.”