Prada: It’s a term that became synonymous with all things fashion following the release of the movie adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2006.
Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler took Prada, and fashion itself, in a different direction. In 2014, Liu and Schuyler created Diet Prada, an instagram account of “ppl knocking each other off.” The account aims to expose designers for being copycats and expose the true feelings of designers, especially those who are anti-LGBTQ or racist.
As of March of 2019, @diet_prada has 1.2 million followers. It is not the only outlet that is creating memes and pointing out similarities of fashion brands. Other instagrams include @hautelemode which has 70 thousand followers, @esteelaundry with 56 thousand and @theinsidemood at 15 thousand. Instagram has created a way for those not in the fashion elite to criticize designers and brands in the name of accountability, but are these accounts helping or harming?
Diet Prada survives on snark and the“gotcha factor.” The snark creates the illusion of sitting with your friends, gossiping about that person who just gets on your nerves. The “call out” allows the reader to feel morally and intellectually superior: smarter than the called-out designer.
Calling a designer out gives the follower an intense and addictive feeling, but it is a dangerous tactic. Once Diet Prada exposed Khloe Kardashian for their copycat clothing, shown an almost exact replica of a vintage bag from a fashion house, or brought attention to the local designers fashion houses are ripping off, the careers of these designers and companies are tarnished forever. That’s not to say that Diet Prada’s account is not important: someone loses at the end of the day, and it will always be the brand.
Even if these designers are not significantly harmed financially, there are still social consequences. These types of posts can jeopardize their careers or cause designers to take fewer risks in fear their work might relate to someone else’s piece decades ago.
Diet Prada’s comparisons leave their followers thinking any form of homage must be a knockoff. Not including Kardashian knockoffs, fashion houses have a long-standing tradition of borrowing and unspoken collaboration. Diet Prada’s emphasis on similarity as imitation rather than inspiration can hurt the symbiosis between fashion designers.
Despite these negative consequences, there is good coming out of Diet Prada’s account.
For example, Diet Prada has taken on the cause of holding Stefano Gabbana, and his brand Dolce & Gabbana, accountable. For instance, Gabbana has come under fire for his attacks of celebrities, his public support of homophobia and his failure to address harmful policies that first lady Melania Trump has supported while wearing his clothes.
In November of 2018, Diet Prada posted a video from Dolce & Gabbana’s newest ad campaign. The ad was designed to appeal to the Chinese market, but instead perpetuated damaging and racist cultural stereotypes. As Liu and Schuyler wrote in the caption for their post, the video “attempts to target China, but instead mocks them with a parodied vision of what modern China is not…a gag for amusement.”
Diet Prada has lobbied for change and cost Stefano Gabbana his reputation by publicizing racist and homophobic remarks he has made. It’s a Cinderella story on the precipice of an actual result, but it is not there yet.
Instagram accounts critiquing the fashion industry are neither wholly good nor bad. They feed off our need for the “gotcha moment” and perpetuate a sense of moral superiority. However, the good outweighs the bad. Diet Prada has embraced the snarkiness they are known for and is actively pushing for a more inclusive society and for brands to hold themselves accountable.