philipp plein
Credit: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Philipp Plein is not one to shy away from controversy. Dubbed as the “most hated man in fashion” as well as the industry’s “bad boy”, the German designer’s namesake brand is gritty and trashy – yet seems to tick all the right boxes. With a celebrity fanbase that boasts the likes of Paris Hilton and Floyd Mayweather, his Instagram account boats 2.1 million followers and perhaps that’s where his feud with Ferrari begun.

Now, the 42-year-old has used the recent protests over George Floyd’s killing to avoid paying Ferrari directly and instead, donating and settlements to charity.

what happened?

In late July, the designer posted a series of images with his Ferrari collection and new line of sneakers. Like his eponymous label, his social media feed flaunts his money and an entourage of bikini-clad models but over the weekend, it has appeared that the Italian car manufacturer wasn’t impressed.

Appearing as more of a car and sneaker partnership than homemade campaign, the automotive company was quick to respond.

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Ferrari’s legal action

A law firm representing Ferrari sent a cease and desist letter to Plein demanding he take the pictures down within 48 hours, calling them “distasteful” and incompatible with its image. The company also stated that the images would hurt companies who already had a partnership with the luxury car company.

“This behaviour tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands and causes Ferrari further material damage.”

Plein’s public response

And in true Philipp Plein fashion, the designer and influencer took to social media with a strongly worded post. He revealed the letter montaged with a clown GIF and a comment saying, “YOU GUYS ARE BLACKMAILING ME??? I have 48h to remover the post of my personal Ferrari on my personal account??? And if I don’t remove it you’ll do what??? Take my car away….. hahahaha.”

His caption continued, “I will not remove the pictures and I will start legal action against the company Ferrari for this unprofessional behavior ! I expect an official APOLOGY from MR. Louis C. Camilleri!”

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so, what now? 

The above was in August, 2019. In a post last Friday, Plein alleged that Ferrari had been pursuing him $2 million USD, however his team had negotiated the sum down to $200,000 USD (roughly $287,174 AUD). Plein offered the company a deal where he donates the amount to charity instead of directly to Ferrari. The post which depicts a letter, read, “In this particular moment full of tragic events all over the world I feel completely inappropriate to fight over such irrelevant matters,” he wrote. “Neither [Ferrari] nor me REALLY need those [sic] money. Instead of continuing this useless litigation I asked my lawyer to settle the fight in order to make a contribution of [$200,000]” to a fund for George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, or Black Lives Matter.”

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SINCE OVER 2 YEARS THE COMPANY FERRARI SPA HAS BEEN DRAGGING ME INTO COURT IN ORDER TO GET A LOT OF MONEY FROM ME !!!! THEY STARTED ASKING FOR 2 MILLION NOW WE ARE AT 200k !!! AND THIS IS ONLY BECAUSE I HAVE POSTED MY PRIVATE CAR ON MY PRIVATE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT ???? AFTER SUCH A LONG TIME I AM EXHAUSTED AND TIRED OF FIGHTING !!! ESPECIALLY IN THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT IT IS COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE TO FIGHT OVER SUCH UNIMPORTANT ISSUES !!! AT THE END NEITHER FERRARI SPA NOR ME REALLY NEED THIS MONEY ! INSTEAD OF CONTINUING TO FIGHT I PROPOSE TOGETHER WITH MY LAWYER TO SETTLE THE FIGHT AND TO CHOOSE TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION OF 200.000 US DOLLAR TO THE “OFFICIAL GIANNA FLOYD FUND” WHICH IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE DAUGHTER OF THE LATE “GEORGE FLOYD AND OF THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILD @roxiewashington_ !!!’ #blacklivesmatter FERRARI @ferrari ARE YOU WITH US ??? I am just waiting for your go !!! I AM PROPOSING THIS SOLUTION NOT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROMOTE MYSELF OR MY BRAND !! I always supported the AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE AND COMMUNITY! I was the first designer who held the first fashion show with all black cast back in 2013 during MILAN FASHION WEEK ! Once again @ferrari instead of wasting resources in an absolutely useless fight let’s come together to make a difference ! EVEN IF FERRARI WILL NOT AGREE I WILL STILL MAKE A DONATION IN ORDER TO SUPPORT !! ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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Plein followed on with a second post after Ferrari acknowledged his request but denied the request. As promised however, Plein made a large donation of $22,000 USD to the Official Gianni Floyd Fund. “Ferrari wrote back and confirmed availability to an amicable solution of the dispute but, unfortunately, refused my offer of a settlement in the form of a donation funded by me to one or more #BlackLivesMatter and #georgefloyd organisations,” read the post.

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Ferrari wrote back and confirmed availability to an amicable solution of the dispute but, unfortunately, refused my offer of a settlement in the form of a donation funded by me to one or more #BlackLivesMatter and #georgefloyd organizations. I find it regrettable and, while we keep spending time and money in this useless dispute, my offer is still valid should Ferrari change its mind. In the meantime, history of the African Americans is in the making and cannot wait. This is why I made a donation of USD 22,000.00 to the official GIANNA FLOYD FUND (the daughter of George Floyd ) !!!!’ #BlackLivesAlwaysMatteredtoPhilippPlein #blacklivesmatter 🖤✊🏻✊✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 @ferrari

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The question remains if Plein’s move to involve the Black Lives Matter movement in his legal debacle as bad taste. It certainly, drew attention away from the real issues.

thoughts?