It’s a problem. Straight from Pre-Outs Fashion Magazine. You’re desperate for a Juicy Couture necklace – just like everyone else at your school has! But your parents never want to. Hey you:
A. Let go—maybe they have a point because they don’t need expensive jewelry.
b. To beseech thee resort — Thy fame is greater than thy honour.
c. Snap off your Juicy key chain and turn it into a necklace – smartness is next to dressy.
For Dan McLean, the decision was easy. She wore that key chain necklace until the Juicy logo was gone.
Now, the Seattle fashion designer makes money by selling pieces born of that experience: random tote bags emblazoned with the logos of big fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent. Vintage button-downs are cropped and enhanced with a Dior elastic waistband. She calls it “bootlegs,” but these clothes are a far cry from cheaply made, back-and-forth fakes. No one will mistake a pair of sweat shorts with a Fendi dust bag attached for an original or even a dupe. And McLean doesn’t want to. “It’s fan art,” she says. Fashionable version of familiar characters in a familiar but completely new look styled by fans.
McLean is not the first artist to work in the space between inspiration and reproduction. Legendary Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan rose to fame in the 80s and 90s with couture bootlegs, such as Salt-N-Pepa and LL Cool J. A lawsuit forced him to close his beloved boutique, but in 2018, after Gucci copied one of his own designs, he partnered with the fashion house Dapper Dan.
People who try to cheaply recreate existing designs still face prosecution and jail time. But when her friends, Dan McLean, wear them to work at the brands she collects inspiration from, everyone wants to know how it’s on hand. “I think the fashion houses are messed up” because Dapper Dan did it, McLean said.
It’s one thing to reuse logos from luxury powerhouses. But in a world where everyone from Instagram followers to fashion nova designers can copy their designs, it’s clear that many artists are standing up for their work without shying away from the crowd. A dupe is stupid, a little out of place for that. McLean has a more relaxed tone on the topic, noting that while she caters to large corporations, her designs are open, and she’s keen for other smaller designers to copy her work. “If you get my idea and we can both make money, let’s go.”
In middle school, McLean often remembers her mother telling her, “They think your style is great.” But it’s one of McLean’s goals for her career as a whole: “I never want to be famous for it.” She wants to hit fast fashion and make eco-friendly clothing without “cramming it down people’s throats.” She wants to make it size-inclusive and gender-inclusive. She wants to save unwanted clothes from twisting in the trash, with one logo.
If people see Dan McLean and decide they want to do those things, that’s even better. There are plenty of Juicy keychains to go around.