Saint Laurent Drops a Retailer in T-Shirt Dispute

It has been well documented that Hedi Slimane has had his share if ‘issues’ with fashion critics and magazine editors during his first year as the designer of Saint Laurent. It has now been made apparent that Slimane is challenging a retailer who did not agree with his vision for the label. On Tuesday, the creative director of ‘Colette’ Sarah Andelman, also an owner of the company stated that Saint Laurent had informed her that it was severing ties with her Paris store.

Colette, one of the most influential independent retailers in the world; has carried Saint Laurent Collections, and previously YSL label since 1998, and has dedicated a number of visual displays to the brand. The issues became apparent when Sarah Andelman was not invited to the spring collection shown on Monday night and also her buying appointment for the collection had also been cancelled.

This apparent issue stems from a specific T-shirt that parodies Mr. Slimane’s decision to revive a former rendering of the label as “Saint Laurent Paris.” In response to this ‘Reason’ a New York based company began producing T-shirts that said, “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.” (The company also makes shirts that ape the logos of famous brands like Hermès, Céline and Cartier, with styles that say “Homies,” “Celine Dion” and “Partier.”) While Saint Laurent is one of the top sellers for Colette, the store also began selling the parody shirts in March, and then another parody label called “What About Yves.”

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We all know these parody tees, and they have become popular with fashionistas over the last few years and have now begun to be sold in many major retailers around the world, at the same time angering many luxury label owners because they are concerned with the potential damage to their brands.

In September the Saint Laurent company contacted Ms. Andelman and requested that they stopped making this t-shirts available on the Colette website. She complied with t is request but continued to sell any remaining stock in her store which in turn prompted further complaints. She said Colette had sold out of the shirts, which cost about £25, by Sept. 21, and did not plan to reorder them. She then received a letter dated Sept. 25 from Francesca Bellettini, the chief executive of Saint Laurent, a copy of which she provided to The New York Times, informing her that the company would stop doing business with Colette.

A spokeswoman for Saint Laurent declined to comment on Ms. Andelman’s complaints on Tuesday and said that the company’s relationships with retailers are confidential. Which would suggest that not only did the dispute over a t-shirt cause the rift, but also Ms. Andelman lack of confidentiality and respect in the matter may have also had serious implications on the relationship between the brands. after all, she has been extremely vocal regarding the matter which speaks volumes in regards to her own professionalism rather than that of the Saint Laurent company.

Ms. Andelman has been quoted as saying “We were loyal and for me it was a nice relationship,” she said. “I can’t believe this is just for a stupid T-shirt. ” Maybe that has been the real problem over the course of this ‘issue’, maybe she has been quoted as saying far too many things.