When daring designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren were selling bondage tartan and safety pin couture from their London boutique in the 1970s, their message was pure punk: shocking, subversive, and definitely anti-establishment. Fast-foward three decades and those spiked collars are looking a lot more domesticated, with Christie's planning a fall auction of the clothing and art publisher Rizzoli scheduled to release a book on the subject. This new appreciation has attracted museums and celebrity collectors -- along with allegations that a number of vintage items bearing the Seditionaries label are, in fact, fake.
After artist Damien Hirst purchased £80,000 (almost USD $160,000) worth of Seditionaries clothing from Simon Easton, a.k.a. Punk Pistol (caution: some images NSFW), McLaren paid Hirst a visit. Based on the fabric, stitching, and in particular the large number of items, McLaren declared the clothing counterfeit -- and set out to protect the public from getting punked. Easton continues to insist on its authenticity.
So, which of these dueling Pistols is the real seditionary, McLaren or Easton? Is it more subversive to create countercultural clothing or to undercut its now-iconic status by flooding the market with fakes? In legal terms, a trademark is a trademark -- but the ingenuous invocation of law to protect Seditionaries is a ironic twist.