Brandon Williamson is the Designer for Elevated Lifestyle Brand PRSVR. He and his wife Margaret are the newest brand added to a long list of those who are having their ideas taken by larger fashion brands. The husband and wife duo have been in the business for 10 years, elevating their endeavors from the Midwest, to Los Angeles to take the brand to new heights. “We knew that we needed to be closer to where the decisions were made in Fashion. We chose LA over New York due to us having stronger relationships in Entertainment than in the Fashion Industry.” They had no idea the number of designers in LA who have their designs poached without credit or compensation. “The first time we had experienced our products being bootlegged, one of our stockists alerted us that our standout leather designs, The Luxury Track Pants were being sold in “The Santee Alley” (where many brands go to see copies of their design work sold at much lower prices). “We knew early on that our ideas were good, but had yet to find the proper allies to magnify the designs to get ahead of the issue of our talent being marginalized.”
And now fast forward to 2021. As the fashion industry allegedly moves to be more inclusive, and better appreciate DOC (Designers of Color) it was a shock when a client told The Williamson’s that their designs were now in Neiman Marcus. Aware that they wanted to pitch their latest collection to department stores this year, there had to be some other explanation. “We just thought they were mistaken, or hopeful after we had been rising in popularity following our NYFW Presentation. I remember just feeling confident in knowing that we were on our way to new heights” says CEO Margaret Williamson. And then another client sent a picture of a new RHUDE Hoodie that showed a design similar to the Pyramid Crewneck they’d owned from PRSVR.
“I just remember thinking that if the other American Designers of Color think this is ok to do, then what can be done to protect those who don’t have allies? We are quick to call out large companies who siphon talent from independent designers, but what are the repercussions for those with better connections stealing from those awaiting their big moment? The answer is nothing different from the days of old. The rich get richer, while others have to fight an industry that gets richer by stealing from designers who didn’t magnify their message quickly enough. Which begs the question, WHAT DOES A DESIGNER DO?
What do you do when a larger company takes your secret sauce, leaving YOU having to fight back for the claim to it? When do you decide you’ve had enough, and speak out, knowing that the looming possibility of being blackballed is right around the corner if doing so goes badly.
“We had to realize that being silent was doing nothing to help us. What do we have to lose other than more designs” says Brandon. “When fashionnova was taking our designs, we understood that process of fast fashion and how unavoidable that is. To have our designs stolen from a brand that constantly receives the opportunities that we are constantly denied is unfortunate. We hope it shines a light on other designers who are actually helping push others forward, not those taking creative ideas and endeavors away from truly minority owned businesses.”
When speaking about design, lifestyle platform Ethos Decorum states “The thing about design is when a brand draws inspiration from all over the place they can get in hot water. Your brand design language should be singular so you are not drawing inspiration from every cultural reference. This allows for a brand to have a constant theme.”
The Pyramid Logo by PRSVR was initially introduced in January 2020. The Pyramid found itself on product by March 2020 where it was the logo for all PRSVR functions during All Star Weekend.