Kylie Jenner's nipple bikini got her caught up in yet another copycat scandal
A small, queer-owned brand says the designer swimsuit Jenner wore is a knockoff of their patented design.
This week, Kylie Jenner posted a picture of herself on Instagram wearing a Jean Paul Gaultier nipple print bikini with the caption “free the nipple.” Pretty dope, to be honest — except when you consider that The TaTa Top, a small, queer-owned business, makes almost the exact same bikini style and believes the luxury brand plagiarized them.
The TaTa Top’s founder, Linze Rice, told BuzzFeed News that people sent her messages after Jenner posted the picture, congratulating her for the massive boost in visibility (Jenner has more than 300 million Instagram followers). But Rice was confused, because the bikini Jenner donned wasn’t from The TaTa Top. To add insult to injury, the Jean Paul Gaultier bikini Jenner was wearing sells for a (frankly offensive) $325, while The TaTa Top sells their tops for $34.99 and donates $3 from each sale to a breast cancer charity, per BuzzFeed News.
Those donations align with the Chicago-based company’s overall mission; they don’t just sell nipple-print bikinis (and “Bushy Bottoms”) for laughs. Per the company’s website, The TaTa Top — which Rice, a journalist and writer, bought in 2018 — was founded by couple Robyn and Michelle Lytle after they realized “the double standards U.S. nudity laws create,” and they continue to support causes like breast cancer awareness and “challenging sexist laws and social norms.”
In a blog post addressing Jenner’s bikini, Rice pointed out that TaTa Top patented their own design after they started selling it in 2014; she told BuzzFeed that she’s exploring her options, but hopes she won’t have to actually engage in a legal battle with such a massive company. “You do kind of expect this sort of thing to a degree — with great ideas come knock-offs. … But when someone with such a massive audience and name recognition rips off the small guy (or gal in this case), it’s hard not to be defeated,” Rice wrote in the blog post.
Now, it’s certainly possible that Jenner wasn’t aware that Jean Paul Gaultier allegedly ripped off a small business with the bikini she donned. But it’s worth mentioning that her family has already been called out several times — including, ironically, by Gaultier — for copying others via their own businesses. The Kardashians and Jenners are notorious for appropriating and profiting off Black culture, and they’ve been at odds with small Black businesses several times throughout their careers.
Just earlier this month, Kim Kardashian launched her new skincare line, SKKN, which was almost identical in name and very similar in design to Lori Harvey’s SKN. Kim also attempted to trademark the name “SKKN” last year, after which Cydnie Lunsford, the founder of the beauty brand SKKN+, issued a cease and desist.
The Kardashians prove that you can have all the money in the world and still lack authenticity. Hopefully they’ll start to credit, support, and pay small businesses their dues. Or, as Rice wrote in her blog post, “Our advice to KJ and JPG is, in the words of Kylie’s famous sis: ‘Get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.’ LMAO.”