Diet Prada, if you’re unfamiliar, is the no-mercy Instagram handle that calls out injustices in the fashion industry. What began as an under-the-radar open account that served as a kind of digital folder between two friends to archive their lookalike findings soon found a following — Naomi Campbell, a vocal fan who’s given them shoutouts on her Instagram stories, is among their most impressive.
People seem to love them for their unabashed willingness to call out injustices within the fashion industry. They’re knowing for raising flags when designers appropriate the creative originals of others. They’re also beginning to comment on larger issues, like fashion’s lack of non-Eurocentric beauty representation, and accusations of sexual harassment.
The voices behind Diet Prada are fearless users of snark — a tone that’s hard to get away with online anymore, at least in fashion. To Diet Prada’s fans and followers, they’re just telling it as they see it. They’re serving the truth on a fashion-plated platter, seeking justice for those who’ve had designs stolen.
I was curious to know how anonymity contributed to their relentless truth-telling, and they agreed to tell me about it.
Your voice is kind of snarky. I think that’s rare to see anymore on the internet in a fashion context.
We’re not being mean — we just want to point out where designers have done wrong. I think people get an almost vigilante feel from us. There’s this idea of justice being served. Nothing about our tone is formulaic; it’s just how we naturally speak. This is actually how we talk. If we did this under our own names from the start, the tone would have been the same.
If I had to describe our voice, I’d say it’s dry sarcasm, humor, wit and shade. I want to leave it open to interpretation, so we straddle those things. Other sites may speak the same content but not the same language, and at the end of the day, it’s about how you connect with people. We’ve been surprised to find such an audience.
Does being anonymous allow you to say what you want, however you want to?
We never went into it anonymously to protect ourselves or because we wanted to post stuff we were scared to say. When we started, all our friends knew it was us. It was a workplace thing. Another part of why we started anonymous and have stayed anonymous is because we could be anybody this way. There’s a weird validity to what we say because, as anonymous posters, we don’t have any motive. It’s like Gossip Girl. It makes it more interesting to others. Maybe they see themselves in it.
Instagram is all about personal brand-building, a little taste of celebrity or at least recognition. Is it odd to have success without recognition?
It’s kind of fun. I wish we could be out and proud about it. [Maybe get] free clothes! But that’s not our thing. It’s a fun secret. A lot of our friends know. A few texted me the High Snobiety article and were like, “Is this you?”
But now I have to be like, “MOM, you can’t post that on Facebook.”
Is it ever weird to be at industry events with people who follow Diet Prada but don’t know it’s you?
We may or may not have been at a dinner together [with you].
Oh my god! Does that mean you have?
Spooky. What made you start it?
We worked together, and part of our job was to comb the runways. We’d have to look through every single runway, so we began to realize, “That’s old Galliano.”
“Am I crazy, or is that so Prada?”
Then we’d pull them up and put them side-by-side and make collages. We started to upload them to Instagram to keep a record. We had no expectations. It was just funny. We were doing these live roasts to each other, purely for entertainment, to get us through the workday.
Now people say, “Diet Prada gets me through the day.” That’s a cool full-circle moment.
Do you ever hear theories about who runs the account?
People think it’s Tim Blanks or Suzy Menkes. Another rumor is that it’s Prada. We don’t have a fear of, “Oh my god, what’s going to happen if we don’t come out?” People are there for our voice.
Where do you draw the line between “taking inspiration” and straight up copying?
Our touchstone [when looking at designer collections] is always, “Is this done from a place of love? Is it an homage?” Are they learning about [the designer] and gaining a new perspective, or are they reissuing a Yohji Yamamoto skirt for no reason, without [recognizing] its roots? We don’t call out fast-fashion houses because there’s no surprise to it; that’s their business model.
We get asked why we don’t cover more vintage [appropriation]. We believe a lot of vintage is fair game if you put it in a new context by bringing it into a new era and making new commentary on it. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to a Cèline runway show from two years ago, and you can see the proven success there, what are you adding that’s new?
Some of your references would require some seriously encyclopedic knowledge or research. Where is that information stored? Your brains?
Combined knowledge is greater, and we both have photographic memories. We both studied design and fashion history. One of us interned at a significant costume institute working in archives. The other one of us is just a freak, with a visual memory and a fluid knowledge, able to pick up code — “Oh, that’s a Yohji Yamamoto signature” — and hone in on it.
Also, because our base has grown so much, a lot of followers submit stuff too, which is great. They’re passionate about it. The account feels like a community now, which is great.
You’re known for calling out designer copycats, but you’ve begun to comment on larger social issues, too. How, as your following grows, does your responsibility to cover these larger issues grow in tandem?
When you have such a concentrated following of impassioned people, it’s irresponsible to not realize that power [of platform] and try to affect change. There are major issues coming to a head and there is no excuse to not express a point of view. There’s power in numbers, so hopefully the way we bring people together after a cause catches the attention of the larger powers that be. It’s hard to just stay on seemingly frivolous topics when there’s so much going on in the world, and even within the fashion industry, which touches far more lives than most people know or care to admit.
Do you get any negative feedback?
We hear a lot of, “*How much longer are they going to be able to sustain it? How much longer before they give into the spoils of the industry, start going to shows?*” They think we’ll stop wanting to be vocal if we’re getting invited to things.
Having a voice and the platform to express it without bias is more valuable than any gift we’re ever going to receive.
*Ed note: The article incorrectly included “start receiving gifts” to this question for sake continuity with the answer. Diet Prada did not say “start receiving gifts” in this sentence. It has since been deleted.
Anything else you want to add?
We’d like to ask our readers, “How would you want to see us expand?” We’d like to know from our followers what they’d like to see us do next. We’re not stopping anytime soon. We’re going to be bigger, badder, better.
Feature photo by James Devaney/GC Images via Getty Images.