One of Kanye West’s greatest desires has clearly been legitimacy in the fashion world, and nothing signals you matter (monetarily, at least) so much as being knocked off by fast fashion.
H&M had Yeezy Season 3 dupes in stores months after the show, as it did for Kanye’s first two seasons; Zara was hawking a replica of Yeezy Boost 750s in January. And now, Forever 21 is trying to capitalize off the popularity of his Life of Pablo merchandise, in the form of a Chicanx-style, Olde English-script t-shirt designed by Los Angeles artist and record label maven Cali Thornhill-DeWitt.
The t-shirt, called the “SDC for Simon de Cyrene” and selling for $34 (via Stereogum), is not in fact a signature tee by a designer called Simon de Cyrene; rather, it alludes in style and in spirit to Kanye’s allusion to the Apostle Paul (Pablo) de Cyrene—who, as regular New Testament readers will know (I had to look it up) was the guy who carried the cross en route to Jesus’s crucifixion, which means the shirt is both a knock-off of the Pablo design and also gleefully morbid. But Forever 21 is, notoriously, a company owned by Don and Jin Chang, evangelical Christians who hire designers with similar religious views (or convert them), so I’m going to assume they know what they’re doing, scripture-wise, in this case.
Of course, one could also say that I preemptively ripped off Life of Pablo tour merch when I DIY’d my own “ESCOBEDO” Chicana memorial shirt in Olde English script back in 2004, but I was just paying tribute to mi familia, and mine cost however much the iron-on letters cost. Culture is a flat circle! Official Pablo shirts may be purchased on Kanye West’s website or on tour.
Images via Forever 21, Getty