The Business of Fashion Unmasks Diet Prada & Discovers What They Plan To Do Next
In a members-only article published on the Business of Fashion this week, chief correspondent Lauren Sherman sat down with the founders of notorious Instagram account Diet Prada, Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler.
It was a major moment for Liu and Schuyler, who up until a few years ago had remained completely anonymous, only offering interviews via email, and even when their names were revealed by a watchdog publication, The Fashion Law, in 2017 they still hadn’t conducted an interview as themselves, or spoke about why they started the now-infamous platform.
Described by BoF as, “fashion’s most feared Instagram account”, Diet Prada first began in 2014. Liu and Schuyler had been working at a fashion brand as designers, employed to conduct research on the work of other designers in order to fuel the creativity of their employer. The friends would browse runway shows online and then conduct these “live roasts” of the collections, shooting witty comments to each other across the office. They’d say things like, “Look at this, it’s so Louis Vuitton Fall 2014.” Their first ever Instagram post showed two images side by side. One was a contrast-collar lady coat from Raf Simons’ Pre-Fall 2015 collection for Dior, and the other image was a contrast-collar Crombie coat from Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. They called out Simons for copying Miuccia Prada, and so it began.
Sportsmax was called out for copying Cèline’s platform sandals; Zac Posen was called out for using the same colour-blocking as Simons’ designs at Dior. Liu and Schuyler aren’t afraid to call people out, to tag designers in their disgraceful knock-offs, to make photographer Bruce Weber, who has been accused of sexual harassment, feel uncomfortable. These people should feel uncomfortable. BoF suggests the success of their platform is in part due to the “social media-fuelled activism” on the rise right now, and it’s true; what began as an account to expose designers stealing from one another, has since transformed into something far more complicated and impactful. The duo are commenting on a wide range of fashion issues from model abuse to racial discrimination and cultural appropriation.
BoF also points out how refreshing it is to follow an Instagram account that isn’t caught up in the images they post. Diet Prada isn’t glossy or perfect, it’s cut-and-paste and it’s graphic, there’s no consistency in their editing and most of the time there aren’t any filters. To me, this squashes the myth that I’ve never bought into: that an account has to be aesthetically pleasing to be successful. I’ve never let The Twenties Club get intimidated by this false sentiment because, as a consumer, I’m always drawn to accounts that look like they’ve got a person behind them and not a PR maven.
I bet you’re wondering where they got the name from? Well it’s in honour of Miuccia Prada, “the original end-all and be-all of everything.” And Diet Coke, which they consider “the original imitator”. As in, it’s pretending to be regular Coca-Cola but we all know it isn’t. Plus, working in the fashion industry you consume an outrageous amount of Diet Coke so it seemed fitting.
Diet Prada currently has over 450,000 followers including Gigi Hadid, Edward Enninful, Pharrell and Carine Roitfeld, and with greater influence comes greater responsibility. Doing this interview was an opportunity for Liu and Schuyler to be serious about the future of their brand, even if it scares them to be exposed in such a way. Recently, there’s been rumours that television producers are interested in the Instagram account and the refreshing honesty it brings to fashion. I couldn’t help but think of the early days of Fashion Police on E!. Is Diet Prada the woke-version of Joan Rivers?
Liu and Schuyler believe that, as an independent entity free from the chains of traditional fashion publishing they may be able to actually, really, transform the industry. The New York Times magazine, The Cut, once said about Diet Prada, “Because it costs nothing to publish on Instagram, the duo are free to say as they please with no risks and no stakes. What a potent cocktail.”