TikTok Designer Accusing Converse of Plagiarism Goes Viral

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May. 25 2021, Published 3:47 p.m. ET

Big brands stealing from smaller labels and independent designers is nothing new, as anyone following the Instagram watchdog account @diet_prada can tell you.

European fashion houses like Valentino and Balenciaga are constantly under fire for "borrowing" from young designers and art students who don't see a penny out of the hundreds of thousands of euros the brands bring in.

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But today, we're turning the lens inward to a more local scandal that begins at America's own beloved sneaker brand Converse.

See how Converse allegedly stole a whole sneaker line from 22-year-old Cecilia Monge, who wasn't even granted the internship at Converse that she made her designs for.

Cecilia Monge TikTok
Source: TikTok
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Converse allegedly stole designs from Cecilia Monge, whose TikTok was amplified by fashion watchdogs Diet Prada.

On Friday, May 21, designer and recent college grad Cecilia Monge, who is set to begin a masters in textiles in the fall, went viral on TikTok for a clip titled "Ouch @converse." In her video, which has amassed over 12 million views as of this writing, Cecilia called out the shoe company for shamelessly copying two styles she designed specifically for Converse when she applied for a 2019 internship.

As the designer explained to Diet Prada, when she saw that Converse had dropped a National Parks line incredibly similar to her own designs, she "was initially skeptical that such a large corporation could've actually noticed her work."

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As she tells it in her viral TikTok video, "Two years ago, I applied to a design internship with Converse and I got really excited about it, really wanted the intership, so I went above and beyond and kind of made a pitch slide deck within my portfolio that I sent them for the application."

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"And this is what I designed," she continues, pointing to her mock-up, which is nearly identical to the shoe Converse released. "It is essentially the same. [I] didn't get the internship, never heard back from them, and then saw this on the internet."

While one similar design might be easy enough to dismiss as a coincidence, Cecilia showed followers a second example of the national parks designs she shared with Converse.

"This is the second shoe that they released and I think it's also very interesting because the color palette is exactly the same to the one I sent them, down to the order of the colors and the actual hues of the color," she continues. "Like, look at the yellow and the greens, it is the same color."

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Has Converse responded to Cecilia Monge and Diet Prada's accusations?

Cecilia went on to tell Diet Prada she was extra "disappointed" because of Converse's brand position of supposedly uplifting and inspiring youth. "Their TikTok account's bio even says 'Here to collab' which I think is ironic," she shared with the fashion Instagram account. "I'm hoping for more people to care about large companies stepping on the little guy, and to learn more about how often large companies are powered by the creativity of people they didn't even give the time of day."

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On Monday, May 24, just days after her viral Friday clip, Cecilia updated fans, saying that Converse had reached out to her with a similar comment to what it had posted under the Diet Prada post. "As a matter of standard legal policy," the comment reads, Converse does not "accept or share unsolicited portfolios of job applicants across the business."

The brand claims it first came up with the concept of these Great Outdoors designs back in 2018. "The first results were released in October 2020, which took inspiration from the map patterns of Nor'easter storms."

Either way, Cecilia says, "Converse hasn't apologized or compensated me, or credited me in any way." In her TikTok update, the young designer concludes, "Unfortunately, this is something that happens all the time."

Do you think Converse is in the wrong, or are the similarities between Cecilia's designs and the Great Outdoors line purely coincidental?

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