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Ye criticised after showing 'White Lives Matter' t-shirt in Paris

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Ye, courtesy Gap

The fashion volcano that is Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, continues to erupt and spew in the face of criticism. A barrage of Instagram attacks against formidable critiques of a Yeezy t-shirt design with the slogan “White Lives Matter” was quickly denounced by the brand’s founder.

The slogan, often associated with American fascist groups, was sported on a long sleeve tee modelled by Bob Marley’s granddaughter at a last minute Yeezy presentation held in Paris on Monday evening. The same t-shirt was worn by right-wing politician Candace Owens, who was also in attendance. Many felt it was out of place and out of touch to show this on a Parisian catwalk, even if no harm was intended.

A statement from the Black Lives Matter movement said:

“While some may see Kanye and Candace’s stunt as a distraction, we recognize that it harms thousands of families fighting for justice for their loved ones killed by state-sanctioned violence. It can spread toxic confusion and be used to legitimize violent assaults on Black people. Battling misinformation while continuing to do the hard [work] that liberation requires is nothing new for us.”

Contributing Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who met Ye prior to the show, said in a now deleted Instagram post the designer’s behaviour was “incredibly irresponsible and a dangerous act.” A retort by Ye mocked Ms Karefa-Johnson’s appearance and standing in the fashion community.

The insult and issue caught the attention of the higher rankings at Condé Nast, which on Vogue’s official Instagram account said it stood by its editor, stating she was “targeted and bullied.”

In other rants Ye suggested Virgil Abloh’s death may have been the cause of pressure from LVMH and its chief Bernard Arnault. Sidney Toledano, the chairman of the LVMH Fashion Group, also came under attack, with Ye stating he did “not like” how Mr Toledano spoke to Givenchy creative director Matthew Williams prior to his runway show.

The ongoing public spewing of grievances has led to Ye’s terminating contracts with Gap Inc and soon Adidas, in addition to heavily dividing opinion on his actions, which many, after Paris, regard as self-entitlement, narcissism and unnecessary warmongering.

Yeezy’s season 9 show also came under fire from both the New York Times (“this was a grenade that backfired,”) and Business of Fashion (“West’s provocations give him a platform he does not deserve.”)

While Ye has not publicly explained the slogan or show remorse for insulting an editor’s criticism, on an Instagram post late on Tuesday he wrote: “We apologised to each other for the way we made each other feel. We have both experienced the fight for acceptance in a world that is not our own.”

Kanye West