News Brief

Ugandan Fashion Designer Claims Her Luxury Handbag Design Was Ripped Off—We Compare

Chic luxury handbag designer Sarah Nakintu sees a strong resemblance between her Lady Bag design and Mansur Gavriel's new collection that debuted at NYFW.

Ugandan luxury hand bag designer, Sarah NaKintu, founder of Kintu New York, whom we featured in our second installment of Okayafrica's new series Afropreneurs, was just leaving a meeting Tuesday when a friend pinged her with a photo, saying "Go and check Instagram now, Mansur Gavriel just showed their new collection, they copied your lady bag."


Seeing the unmistakable resemblance to her Lady Bag design, released in March, NaKintu immediately pulled up Instagram and felt her heart sink.

It appears Mansur Gavriel copied the body style, only changing the color to tan and replacing Kintu New York's trademark cow-horn closure, sourced from Kenya, with a basic metallic clasp.

Exhibit A:

From Kintu's Instagram

Today is a sad day. I was leaving a meeting when a friend sent me a photo saying 'go and check Instagram now, Mansur Gavriel just showed their new collection, they copied your lady bag". I raced out of the meeting to check my Instagram and there it was, our Lady Handbag (in Blue) that we launched earlier this year in March copied by Mansur Gavriel. You see, we are a new emerging brand, our core value is preserving luxury artisanal skills by working with artisans in places like Kenya and India. The hardware on our bags was made with artisans in Kenya. What's worse is that many people are calling the MG design new", "fresh" and "innovative." No, we launched our line in March and we've been posting it on several social media platforms using #ladybag and even received a feature on Vogue.it in Vogue Selection. It's really hard for a new handbag brand to break through, we've worked so hard for the past year to perfect our designs, enter the market and be recognized. To see our design ripped off by a very successful brand is really upsetting and should be illegal. (Kintu Lady Bag in blue, Mansur Gavriel new bag in camel top left). @mansurgavriel #mansurgavriel #NYFW #ss17 #copy #accessories

A photo posted by KINTU NEW YORK (@kintunewyork) on

We caught up with NaKintu by phone to inquire about what looks like a blatant rip-off.

"It's upsetting. We are so small. They just changed the hardware," she laments. "We're new. We work with artisans. It's hard when a bigger brand takes our design."

NaKintu's cerulean Lady Bag design debuted on the market in March, using #LadyBag, and was recently featured on Vogue in Vogue Selection. It's possible Mansur Gavriel saw the feature or hashtag, and looked to NaKintu's design as "inspiration."

Unfortunately in the fashion design world, anyone can claim a design as inspiration, NaKintu explains. There isn't a formal process for patenting a design. And it's difficult for smaller, scrappier companies to compete with bigger and more established production houses.

"It's definitely awful. We're trying to see what we can do," she says. "You can just raise awareness and let people know you made it first."

NaKintu is currently in the process of consulting with her production team to see what further recourse she may have to challenge Mansur Gavriel's alleged knock-off.

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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