After New York Fashion week ended, stylists, critics and fans had no shortage of opinions on the fall/winter seasonal offerings from some of the biggest names in fashion. Unlikely contributors to the conversation? The skateboarders who also took to the Internet to unleash their own assessment of Jeremy Scott's runway show, claiming that Scott had stolen the images, which were prominently featured in his collection, from iconic skateboard artists Jim Philips and his son Jimbo.
Jim Philips has, in no small way, helped to define the look of skateboarding since he first started doing board graphics for the Santa Cruz brand in the early '70s. He is widely regarded as the originator of skate art, by creating some of the most enduring graphics of all time, like "The Screaming Hand." Having made boards for legendary skaters like Rob Roskopp, Christian Hosoi and Steve Alba, Jim Philips' graphics are a vital part of skateboarding's history. His style is unmistakably his own and he's passed that unique hand-style on to his son Jimbo.
As skateboarding has converged more and more with the fashion world (think skateboarder Dylan Rieder modeling on the pages of Vogue) it was not surprising that someone would catch the similarities between vintage Santa Cruz graphics and the clothes being showcased on the runway at the Jeremy Scott show.
"A few days after New York Fashion Week, I had a few Facebook friends that kept sending me pictures of the [Scott] fashion show. I had never heard of the designer before, but as soon as I saw the clothing, I knew. I was really surprised to see imitations of our skate graphics on clothing worn by runway models. Then I saw the video of the fashion show and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't believe how many pieces there were. I then showed a few close friends and family and their reactions were the same," Jim Phillips said.
Attempts to contact Scott through his representation were not returned.
This is not the first time that Scott has been accused of appropriating other people's ideas, however. He was criticized for his Hana-Barbera-infused Flintstones-themed show in spring 2012, followed by his fall 2012 collection which featured accessories that were similar to those of designer Ms. Fitz. Scott's irreverent, pop-culture-obsessed, tongue-in-cheek sensibilities have been embraced by celebrities and tastemakers, and the allegations against him have helped to keep his name in the public eye.
Scott does have a long-term partnership as a collaborator with Adidas and his work with Swatch Watches and in 2012, Scott featured characters from "The Simpsons" in his collection via a licensing agreement with creator Matt Groening.
"It might have helped a little to get credited or acknowledged, depending on how it was done, but it still doesn't make it right," Jimbo Phillips said. "My father has been creating this art for over 40 years, and I've been doing it for over 20 and I hope to pass it down to my son. It's a family tradition passed down [through the] generations, and we've worked long and hard to establish this look and aesthetic."
Many of the graphics from the runway show were never manufactured, and images were only available in a book on Jim Phillips' artwork. Robert Denike, president and CEO of NHS, which distributes Santa Cruz Skateboards said, "Many people have concluded that Jeremy Scott must have obtained a copy of Jim Phillips Sr.['s] book, 'The Skateboard Art Of Jim Phillips,' published in 2007. There is some obscure art in the book that Jeremy Scott lifted and it could only have come from that book."
Denike spoke for the family and skateboarders when he said, "It's obvious to us, the Phillips family, the fans of Jim Phillips Sr. and Jimbo Phillips and fans of the brand Santa Cruz Skateboards, as well as many in the global skateboard and skate-art community, that there is clear and obvious infringement by Mr. Scott. We are discussing this with our legal team to determine our next steps."
Had Scott come to Jim Phillips first, Phillips said he "would have entertained the possibility" of collaborating with [Scott] because he's "always open to new collaborations and getting [his] art out there into new arenas."