Artist Enraged at Kanye West for Copying Jacket Design Worn by Homeless Man

West's successful clothing line comes under fire.

Kanye West performing at the 2015 Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Courtesy of photographer Clint Spaulding © Patrick McMullan.

Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg is up in arms, as a jacket worn by one of his most famous young homeless subjects has been recreated as a fashion item and worn by Kanye West, who in turn has copied and sold his own version of the jacket at a price of $400.

West, who has just launched a very popular clothing line in conjunction with his recent The Life of Pablo album, was photographed during New York Fashion Week this past February wearing a replica of a jacket customized by Goldberg’s subject, the late Tweaky Dave.

Dave wore the jacket in a well-known photograph taken by Goldberg for his 1995 book Raised by Wolves, which documented young homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles.

One of the jackets on sale at Kanye's store. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

One of the jackets on sale at Kanye’s store.
Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

A very similar jacket, inscribed with the track listing from The Life of Pablo, then went on sale at West’s pop-up store, which has caused Goldberg great upset.

“For the jacket to become sold as fashion—it really put me over the edge,” Goldberg told i-D. “The spirit and intention of Kanye could be right, but the manner in which he is presenting it is wrong. All meaning has been lost. [He’s] forgetting history—not acknowledging where that design came from is wrong.”

Tweaky Dave ran away from home aged nine and lived on the streets of Los Angeles working as a child prostitute; he eventually became addicted to heroin before dying of liver disease. His charismatic personality lead to him becoming a key member of the street scene in Los Angeles, and he even appeared on the Jerry Springer Show, speaking to the studio audience about the plight of young homeless people.

Goldberg is now considering legal action as he thinks that West should at least acknowledge Dave in some way, which given his tragic circumstances is hard to argue with.

“Ultimately all I would want from them is acknowledgement of Dave, and maybe they give something to homeless kids,” Goldberg told i-D. “I don’t know how to achieve that, but that’s what I would want to achieve.”

Meanwhile, West took to Twitter—after claiming his tweets were contemporary art—to announce how strong his sales at the pop-up store had been.

So perhaps a donation to a charity for homeless children is in order?

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics