Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Written by: Charlotte Bendkowski
Who is behind Diet Prada, and what do they stand for?
If you’ve heard of them already, and you either adore their antics or love to hate them. But what is their mission? We delve deep into the history of the internet's favourite fashion critics...
Diet Prada has been described as the ‘fashion watchdog’ of Instagram accounts, created anonymously in 2014, and later being identified as being run by Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler. So who are they and what gives them the right to critique individuals and big brands with millions of followers and industry leaders watching?
Tony Liu, one half of Diet Prada, explained in one of his few interviews that Diet Prada are ‘advocates for design, integrity and originality, rather than critics' He explained, 'A part of the drive to keep us doing this is to help out the brands that have been knocked off’.
The infamous account has called out influencers for their lack of integrity when it comes to working on collaborations with big brands, and they aren't afraid to call out stalwart fashion labels such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Victoria’s Secret, and publicly document how they have taken advantage of smaller brands or artists to enhance profits.
The other half of Diet Prada is Lindsey Schuyler, who notoriously takes a stand for the environment. When asked about the biggest problems the fashion industry faces today, ‘Sustainability. And not just environmental, but that of the business too—because you [should be] caring for your staff, rather than abusing them’. This statement was made after Diet Prada's reports of clothing factories in Bangladesh employing children, and having them work in unsafe conditions, one such factory collapsed killing dozens of its underaged employees. Without Diet Prada’s reach, the event would have gone largely unnoticed.
The duo who make up Diet Prada met while they were working together at American accessories brand Eugenia Kim. Tony Liu was born in New York and has a background in fine arts, he later went on to run menswear brand YOU AS. Lindsey Schuyler grew up in Florida and was a designer for eyewear brand FXGI. Diet Prada was created as a result of seeing photographs of runway shows, and the similarities the pair noticed between looks, and the older original designs that the pair believe had been "ripped off."
Without Diet Prada’s reach, the event would have gone largely unnoticed.
A pivotal moment for the account, was in 2018, when it drew viral attention to a Dolce & Gabbana video promoting their upcoming fashion show ‘The Great Show’, that was scheduled to preview in Shanghai. The promotional video depicted a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food with a pair of chopsticks. Dolce & Gabanna faced astronomical backlash from this video, being criticised for portraying extremely racist material.
A few hours before the show was scheduled to start, Diet Prada published screenshots of direct messages with the designer Stefano Gabbana himself, in which he displayed prejudiced and racial views towards the Chinese population. This incensed the public and the individuals, including the models who were set to appear in the show, resulting in the whole show being cancelled. (Not just social media cancelled, actually cancelled.) The events proved that Diet Prada has the power and influence to bring about direct change to the fashion industry, which could certainly benefit from being held to account.
Business of Fashion has rather accurately described it as being ‘the most feared Instagram account’, and Fast Company have said that the account is ‘one of the most influential voices in the fashion industry right now’. However, the account has also received a fair amount of backlash, for allegedly giving preferential treatment to brands they have worked with, and from certain brands that have been called out by the account, that have taken legal action against Diet Prada due to the fallout of public shaming.
Diet Prada has been seen to act as an agent of ‘cancel culture’ which sets out to eradicate an influencer or brand from popular culture, by publicly pointing out their flaws and posting it to the public. One famous example of this was when Diet Prada suspected and accused high profile blogger Danielle Bernstein of copying a black-owned small business’s mask designs and ripping them off within her own fashion line WeWoreWhat.
This accusation went on for weeks, and the backlash that followed this post was something Diet Prada could never have predicted. Ms Bernstein was receiving death threats, strangers turning up at her home, and a debacle of online hate filling her comments sections. The blogger then sought to receive legal representation as it was causing irreversible harm to her reputation, and to the success of her businesses. So, does Diet Prada really have the best intentions at heart?
Business of Fashion has described it as being ‘the most feared Instagram account’,
You can't argue that Diet Prada is commendable in its championing of minority and margianlised voices in the fashion industry. Diet Prada don’t just cover couture, the account has gone on to exhibit a supportive platform to voice support of the #BLM protests, posting a number of dedicated posts to black-owned fashion designers, models and houses. Not to forget the notorious post depicting fashion giant SHEIN’s Nazi symbol necklace, which Diet Prada pointed out to be highly inappropriate for the company to be manufacturing and selling for profit.
The creators also have played a part in the #MeToo movement and covered the major allegations against celebrity photographers Timur Emek, and Marcus Hyde, who were using their fame and connections to trick aspiring models into engaging with sexual acts in order to get posted, and boost their following. This came after a series of young girls stepped forward and shared screenshots with Diet Prada which were later posted, depicting the innapropriate direct messages. Diet Prada's actions were incredibly helpful to stopping the perpetrators and bringing the issue to light.
Do you follow Diet Prada? Do you think they go about exposure in the right way? Let us know your thoughts on our Instagram @TheModems