Khosi Nkosi accused of being a copycat

A mask by Khosi Nkosi
A mask by Khosi Nkosi

A war over face masks has erupted between established fashion designers Khosi Nkosi and Morapedi Manotoana.

Soweto-based Manotoana, renowned for his 10-year-old brand Floyd Avenue, has accused Nkosi of being a copycat.

Manotoana strongly believes that Nkosi stole the design idea of his signature denim blue mask with a side strap that he claims to have made in March. Manotoana first shared his mask publicly on social media on April 15. This comes after Metro FM's Naked DJ posted four days ago a camouflage mask designed by Nkosi with a similar side strap panel.

"That is the detail that defined my mask from other people's masks," Manotoana told Sowetan yesterday.

"When you plagiarise such a mask, I'm now put under pressure to create a different mask that will work for my brand.

"I had planned to do my mask in camouflage and now it's going to look like I'm coping Khosi. When you plagiarise someone's work you back them into that kind of corner," he said.

"It's a bullying mentality that you are just entitled to other people's work. I'm not the first person she has done this to and at some point somebody needed to call her out on it," Manotoana said.

Nkosi told Sowetan yesterday she rejected Manotoana's accusations and was considering legal action. Nkosi's brand was founded in 2008 and she is well-known for dressing local stars such as Nomzamo Mbatha, Liesl Laurie, Dineo Langa (née Moeketsi), Khanya Mkangisa and Candice Modiselle.

"Plagiarism by definition is presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement," Nkosi said. "Our response will be to firstly show all the other aspects of the mask that are different (as per image).

A mask by Morapedi Manotoana
A mask by Morapedi Manotoana

"Secondly, our manufacturing and production process started two weeks prior to our release date (April 22 2020) on all our social media platforms, of our various offering of masks. It is highly improbable that a mask design released on April 15 2020 was a design we copied when we had already designed and manufactured our brand of these masks," Nkosi said. "We take exception to being accused and should such accusation continue from Floyd we will institute a defamation suit."

Manotoana said he was not interested in taking the legal route with Nkosi and just wanted to expose what she was doing. He said he planned to move forward with a new signature mask. "Our copyright laws in SA are quite loose, so there isn't much of legal recourse that can be done. The best that I can do is in outing her and try to move on," Manotoana said.

"We have always been taught as black people to walk away and not stand up for yourself from generation to generation. It is time to break that circle. Stand up for yourself, it doesn't matter how big the other party is."

Manotoana first aired his grievances on social media on Friday. "@khosinkosi has replicated my mask. There are creative deceitful changes to the mask with the sole purpose of distinguishing it from the original," Manotoana wrote.

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