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Credit: Huffpost

Iconic Swimwear By BFyne Is Shamelessly Plagiarized

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Jul. 19 2018, Published 8:13 p.m. ET

Last week Thursday during Miami Fashion Week, designer Silvia Ulson was caught red-handed showcasing designs originally by BFyne.

BFyne is a swimwear label owned by designer, entrepreneur and Nigerian-American Buki Ade. The designs are heavily influenced by African prints, notably West Africa’s dashiki print. On the BFyne website’s About Me sectionBuki Ade describes herself  as someone who “lives by the company motto of ‘unleash your inner Fynebabe’ taking risks with her own personal style, she effortlessly incorporates the latest trends in African culture and the confidence of a queen.”

According to Huffpost:

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Bfyne’s rep said they found out about Ulson’s collection via Instagram, and were also alerted to it by models who previously worked for them and were present at Ulson’s show. The rep also said that another member of the Bfyne team flew to Miami to meet with Ulson, who claimed the designs were her own original work and did not apologize.”

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Bfyne’s rep said they found out about Ulson’s collection via Instagram, and were also alerted to it by models who previously worked for them and were present at Ulson’s show. The rep also said that another member of the Bfyne team flew to Miami to meet with Ulson, who claimed the designs were her own original work and did not apologize.”

Here are a few images comparing BFyne‘s swimwear vs Silvia Ulson’s so-called “original” work.

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Credit: The Shade Room

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Credit: Huffpost

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Credit: Huffpost

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Credit: Huffpost

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Correct me if I’m blind but they are nearly identical.

Huffpost writes:

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“In the leadup to her presentation, Ulson shared what appear to be inspirational images for the collection on Instagram, which have since been removed. The pictures showed various color swatches, beading details and images of indigenous people of Brazil wearing traditional headdresses.

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“In the leadup to her presentation, Ulson shared what appear to be inspirational images for the collection on Instagram, which have since been removed. The pictures showed various color swatches, beading details and images of indigenous people of Brazil wearing traditional headdresses.

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‘Brazilianness. The Indians used body paint as a means of expression linked to different cultural manifestations in their society,’ Ulson wrote in Portuguese in the caption, according to a HuffPost translation. ‘For each event, there’s a specific type of painting: mourning, hunting, marriage, death. All indigenous ritual is expressed on their bodies in the form of painting, it’s the Indians’ most intense form of artistic expression. The paint is made from urucum [achiote, a red plant], jenipapo [a brown fruit] or babaçu [a Brazilian palm]. Living art!!!’

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‘Brazilianness. The Indians used body paint as a means of expression linked to different cultural manifestations in their society,’ Ulson wrote in Portuguese in the caption, according to a HuffPost translation. ‘For each event, there’s a specific type of painting: mourning, hunting, marriage, death. All indigenous ritual is expressed on their bodies in the form of painting, it’s the Indians’ most intense form of artistic expression. The paint is made from urucum [achiote, a red plant], jenipapo [a brown fruit] or babaçu [a Brazilian palm]. Living art!!!’

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Ulson’s account also shows images of her meeting with individuals of the Krukutu tribe.”

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Ulson’s account also shows images of her meeting with individuals of the Krukutu tribe.”

Anne Branigin of The Root writes: “Girl, how many cultures can you disrespect in one swimsuit collection?”

Silvia responded to getting caught on fashion week online by form of excusals rather than apology.

Shocker.

An excerpt from her response reads:

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“So this year my inspiration was Native American Brazilian, so I went to a tribe and spent two days there. That’s what we used for the headdresses!

So upon returning from there, I made the black-and-white bikinis that were also shown, and thought it would be interesting to have some bikinis with prints mixing the indigenous paintings that they paint on their body. For the Brazilian Indians, each painting has a meaning.

So I looked for a person here in Brazil who creates in this medium. I spoke with this person called Fernando: he came personally to my store and told me that some days he would come back with some samples. I thanked him and I was waiting for this gentleman to come back.

After a few days he brought me the samples. At first I did not like them, but he told me they were great, and that it would be very important to have these prints so that everything was not black and white.

I paid for his creation and for producing each sample. I was grateful and added those bikinis he made for me in the collection I showed at the show in Miami.”

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“So this year my inspiration was Native American Brazilian, so I went to a tribe and spent two days there. That’s what we used for the headdresses!

So upon returning from there, I made the black-and-white bikinis that were also shown, and thought it would be interesting to have some bikinis with prints mixing the indigenous paintings that they paint on their body. For the Brazilian Indians, each painting has a meaning.

So I looked for a person here in Brazil who creates in this medium. I spoke with this person called Fernando: he came personally to my store and told me that some days he would come back with some samples. I thanked him and I was waiting for this gentleman to come back.

After a few days he brought me the samples. At first I did not like them, but he told me they were great, and that it would be very important to have these prints so that everything was not black and white.

I paid for his creation and for producing each sample. I was grateful and added those bikinis he made for me in the collection I showed at the show in Miami.”

The 3 things that strike me the most about her story are:

1) She spent 2 days with a tribe and came back with headdresses? Really? Has she never seen Pocahontas or Googled images from Coachella’s culturally appropriated filled music festival?

2) If she was really that adamant about paying homage to the tribes of Native Brasil, why on Earth would she spend 2 days with a tribe and then simply accept designs from a complete “stranger” that comes into her store?

3) Isn’t it oddly convenient that this “stranger” is no where to be found?

There are so many things that don’t add up with her logic or story.

The moral of this story is do your research, Google is your friend, and for the love of all things cultural, stop stealing from black artists, and cool it with the feather headdresses.

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