KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Thailand’s religious authority has accused US fashion brand Supreme of using an image of a revered Thai monk on one of its shirts without permission.
The Buddhist nation’s religious department said it will issue a complaint to the New York-based skateboarding lifestyle brand.
The popular clothing company featured the image of the iconic late monk Luang Phor Koon on the ‘Blessings Ripstop Shirt’ from its Spring/Summer 2021 collection.
Supreme surrounded the image with yant script, a sacred form of tattoos reserved for Buddhist monks and Brahmin holy men.
According to Coconuts Bangkok, Thailand’s National Office of Buddhism and Wat Ban Rai, where the late monk was based, the brand did not contact them for permission.
The national office representative Sipboworn Kaewngam said the letter will raise the point of misappropriation of the revered monk’s image who died in 2015, aged 91.
Sipboworn said the iconic image of Luang Phor Koon taken in the early 2000s was sold on printed cloths to raise funds for a Nakhon Ratchasima province temple.
Temple manager Tawatchai Sanprasit also said he and the temple’s committee did not receive any written request from Supreme.
“We will discuss the issue and find out what the brand’s purpose is,” Tawatchai said, adding that the temple will decide what action could be taken against the brand.
The late monk’s nephew Boonterd Wongkanchanarat said it was wrong of the brand to print a sacred item on a commercial product.
“If it’s for a public event for a good cause, I wouldn’t object,” Boonterd said.
“But this is a clothing brand, a private business, and they didn’t even ask for our permission to use it.”
A Thai intellectual property official Wuttikrai Leeweerapan weighed in on the matter, saying if Wat Ban Rai has proof it created the image along with the yant scripts, the intellectual property would belong to the temple.
What this means is the temple has rights to the image for 50 years from its date of creation under international convention.
One of Thailand’s most beloved monks, Luang Phor Koon or Khun Parissuddho was one of Thailand’s most beloved monks who was admired for his down-to-earth lifestyle and easy-to-follow Buddhist teachings.
It is believed that amulets blessed by Luang Phor Koon possessed supernatural powers.
Following his death in 2015, a masterpiece crematorium was constructed for his send-off in a royally sponsored ceremony in 2019.