While Nike targeting bootleggers in court has been one of the stories to watch over the past year, Valentino is showing a more magnanimous way to handle imitators.
Earlier this year, an up-and-coming streetwear brand named Cloney cribbed Valentino’s “V” logo for a hoodie replacing the brand’s name with the word “Vaccinated.” Pierpaolo Piccioli came across the bootleg piece on Instagram and, instead of pursuing legal action, purchased the remaining stock of five hoodies. He’d go on to post a photo to Instagram of himself wearing the hoodie and gift another to Lady Gaga in August, boosting demand for the mix of status symbols and civic duty.
Now, Piccioli and Valentino are taking their embrace of Cloney’s bootleg a step further by selling the design as an officially sanctioned garment. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which is working to bring vaccines to countries without easy access. And at $750 a pop, the hoodies could generate some serious coin slated for charity.
A happy resolution — Piccioli spoke to the New York Times about the progression of Cloney’s “Vaccinated” hoodie and said, “I didn’t want to steal the idea — even though I wished I had it first.” Instead, he was able to get Cloney founder Duke Christian George III to agree to “donate” the idea.” In exchange, Valentino would produce the hoodies in its own factories to align with the brand’s quality standards and donate all the proceeds earned, a figure estimated to reach at least $900,000. (A “Cloney” tag is also stitched onto the hoodie’s left sleeve.)
“I can talk about ruffles and bows, but sometimes you have to use your voice to say what you really believe, and I believe it is our social responsibility to get vaccinated,” Piccioli told NYT. “It’s not a symbol of freedom to not be vaccinated. It’s a symbol of lack of respect for others.”
Putting aside the inevitable complaints of anti-vaxxers, the hoodie could still read as a corny sartorial act of virtue signaling — and that’s before you factor in the exorbitant cost. But more groan-worthy status symbols have gripped consumers, and Valentino’s hoodie has the shield of charitable work.
Should $750 be too much for you, you can still find stock of the original bootleg at boutiques like Clic for $190. And, of course, you can donate directly to UNICEF in an amount of your choosing and without receiving anything in return.