Silvia Ulson Responds
According to Ulson:
Note: The following has been translated from an official statement in Portuguese.
“Our show was on Thursday, and Saturday I received an Instagram message from @cyber.gypsies saying he was a French buyer who was interested in placing an order for the swimwear at the show.
“I explained to him that my annual swimwear presentation is for fun only, usually around the theme of Brazilian pride and culture. I’ve done these shows since 2005, just as a way to bring attention to my other clothing — since I don’t sell swimwear — and Brazilian culture.
I don’t even sell swimwear. I explained to him that my annual swimwear presentation is for fun only
[Note: The Silvia Ulson website does not currently offer swimwear for sale.]
“Last year I did a show at the W Hotel around the theme of Carmen Miranda, and in another year I made a collection using Brazilian denim (canatiba).
“So this year my inspiration was Native American Brazilian, so I went to a tribe and spent two days there. That’s what we used for the headdresses!
this year my inspiration was Native American Brazilian
“So upon returning from there, I made the black-and-white bikinis that were also shown, and thought it would be interesting to have some bikinis with prints mixing the indigenous paintings that they paint on their body. For the Brazilian Indians, each painting has a meaning.
I thought it would be interesting to have some bikinis with prints
“So I looked for a person here in Brazil who creates in this medium. I spoke with this person called Fernando: he came personally to my store and told me that some days he would come back with some samples. I thanked him and I was waiting for this gentleman to come back.
“After a few days he brought me the samples. At first I did not like them, but he told me they were great, and that it would be very important to have these prints so that everything was not black and white.
“I paid for his creation and for producing each sample. I was grateful and added those bikinis he made for me in the collection I showed at the show in Miami.
I paid for his creation and for producing each sample
“I never imagined that this would be a copy. I did the show on Thursday night. It was a success, and I started and closed the show with my white and black pieces.
“On Saturday morning I received this message on the Instagram and politely asked him to write me through my personal WhatsApp explaining that I do not market bikinis at the moment but rather clothes and pieces tailored to my clients.
“He said he was from France and wanted to find me quickly! I told him I had no way to fill an order, and he insisted. I gave my home address. He came to my house, and I treated him very well and politely. My 9-year-old son was by my side. He opened his computer and told me that the designs were not from Native Americans but from him, that it took him 3 years to build his business.
“I was scared and did not understand anything. I asked him to repeat it again. While he put his website on the computer … I asked him if he had already done any work in Brazil, because I was trying to make the connection to the person who had sold me the one-off garments.
“He told me me yes, that for two years he had his bikinis made in Brazil. So I asked him if we worked with a man named Fernando? He told me that he dealt with a woman and that she worked with a man.
He told me me yes, that for two years he had his bikinis made in Brazil
“I was shocked I called my lawyer in front of him, and my lawyer asked him to pass all information from him and the company. The man said he did not have it and that as soon as he arrived at his hotel he would give it to me. But he never gave me anything.
“At no time did anyone from Bfyne, or anyone giving their full name, contact me.
“I explained that I had never seen this print in my life and that I would never need to go to an event there in Miami copying a brand that already EXISTS! The man said it made sense, and to please have my lawyer contact him as soon as I arrived in Brazil.
“I sent by WhatsApp all my drawings and pictures of the tribe I visited. And he began to threaten me by telling me to me erase the photos from Instagram.
“I immediately deleted those he said were his.
I immediately deleted those he said were his
“I started looking in Google for the name of the pattern, dashiki, and I found many sites that claimed to be the designers of these bikinis, and who were selling them!”
Dashiki Bikinis Online
The designers Bfyne claims as their own do indeed appear on numerous websites:
When FWO mentioned to Bfyne media director John Adele that the dashiki patterns in use appeared on many websites, from China to Brazil, Amazon to Etsy, Adele said that some of these pictures are actually using Bfyne’s models.
As for Ulson, she told FWO she is “scared.”
“A stranger came into my house, I have received threats on Instagram, and my goal was simply to put on a fun show, as I have since 2005. I paid for the patterns in question, and it was supposed to be a show of cultural pride. Instead I was sold prints that appear everywhere, and it is possible others have been, too.”