A person going by the name of Arnaud Henry Mensan’s, has made off with stealing thousands of dollars worth of designer garments and accessories by posing as an industry insider. According to Dazed, Mensan used false credentials on his instagram page to trick emerging and established fashion brands into sending him their fashion samples, under the pretense they would be featured in prestigious fashion editorials.
His Instagram account (as seen above) portrays him as an fashion editor at Dazed Media and affiliates him with well-known fashion publications such as Vogue, W magazine, AnOther, Nylon, Paper, Bullet, among others and also claims that he was named in Business of Fashion's 500 list of people shaping the global fashion industry, but none of this is in-fact true.
Most of the designers believed the suspect’s social media account and delivered the items to him, and as a result, he is reported to have stolen thousands of dollars in clothing and accessories, and is said to have pieces from brands such as Moschino, Vetements, Balmain, Rick Owens, Chanel among others
Along with this being a case of clear fraud, the incident also homes in on the specific type of capital valued in the field of fashion (reputational) and the powerful influence of social media.
It seems that Mensan was able to get away with defrauding the industry by winning over followers and becoming a social media power player. This allowed him to influence key players in the industry. His Instagram account, which prior deactivation few days ago, was followed by over 92,000 Instagram users. In order to garner the trust of designers in the industry – Mensan aligned himself with established fashion publications and he regularly posted images on his instagram feed of photo shoots displaying his alleged styling work for fashion houses that he had stolen (infringed) from real publications to as French sociologist Bourdieu would call it: strategically “generate an initial capital of authority,” in the field of fashion, “by appropriating some of the legitimacy possessed by established houses.”
Dazed was tipped off about the scam when a representative from the Parisian label Berluti “reached out to Dazed to detail how Mensan had reached out to their Paris office, claiming he was planning photoshoots in Japan. He told the brand that the editorials were for AnOther and Dazed, as well as ‘soon to be relaunched’ Dazed Japan.” Berluti leased samples that were worth around £10,000 to the imitation stylist. After promising to return the samples, Mensan cut contact with the label.”
This isn’t the first time Mensan has been accused of scamming designers and brands. He also targeted smaller brands. American designer Bradley Jordan complained about the designer online, and Back in May, Barcelona-based designer Martin Across told i-D that Mensan had contacted him in early 2015, seeking a handful of pieces from his latest collection. According to i-D: “The designer sought him on ‘social networks and confirmed that it had more than 40,000 followers on Instagram’ and, moved by the ability to view their garments in prestigious industry publications, sent the looks in question.” And recently designer Sadie Clayton has come forward "after approximately £14,000 worth of samples were sent to Mensan for a fabricated Dazed and I-D Japan shoot in May 2016, and after engaging with Clayton across several months about sending parcels back and invoices to claim expenses from Dazed, he again cut contact."
The case is an interesting one for an industry that has become so reliant on social media, and from a legal perspective is a wake up call for designers to take due diligence matters more seriously when dealing with digital influencers online.