High fashion luxury labels have found themselves to be stuck somewhere in between our youth culture’s fashion craze: streetwear parodies of well-known luxury labels, and a trademark infringement lawsuit. David Lipke, in his article, “Designer Parodies Test Legal Boundaries in Streetwear” from Women’s Wear Daily, demonstrates how various streetwear designers have released clothing featuring designs bearing a strong resemblance to luxury logos, but in a humorous manner. Despite the initial appeal to this trend being founded by the underlying admiration of high fashion’s luxury brands, the upshot for these streetwear designers’ satisfying streetmarket consumers could be unpleasant legal ramifications.
Fashion companies utilize a mechanism called licensing to expand the brand and also increase revenue via royalties. So what exactly is licensing?
Licensing is the process of “renting” a fashion company’s intellectual property (generally trademarks) to another entity for use in conjunction with a product or service, for a sum of money called royalties. It is based on a contractual agreement between the owner of the property, known as the licensor, and the manufacturer or retailer, known as the licensee.
LICENSOR (IP Owner) + LICENSEE (Manufacturer) = LICENSED PRODUCT(s)
Bounded roughly by 34th and 40th streets between Broadway and Ninth Avenue, the Garment District took shape in the early 20th century. By the nineteen-twenties, the area became home to thousands of factories, showrooms, and offices dedicated to the garment trade. The Garment District produced more than three-quarters of America’s clothing.
Today, approximately three percent of the clothing we wear is made in America.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with designer Joseph Altuzarra and his design assistant, Patricia Voto in their studio. Mr. Altuzarra provided me with some valuable insights into the practical and legal issues that fashion designers face.
I found Mr. Altuzarra and Ms. Voto currently working on their Resort 2014/pre-spring collection, which will show in May/June. Season to season, Mr. Altuzarra draws his inspiration by asking himself “who is the woman?” As a male designer, Mr. Altuzarra relies on women’s desires and what they want. He asks, “What do I want to wear?” “What do I think is desirable?”
The Model Alliance is a “growing network of models and industry leaders dedicated to improving working conditions in the American fashion industry.” The Model Alliance works to give models in the industry a voice.
As with many fashion-obsessed souls, I have spent countless nights dedicated to the fashionable world created by Patricia Field in “Sex and the City.” Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw is whom I always identified with most. She’s a romantic who is passionate about her city and is openly addicted when it comes to her clothes and shoes.
As WWD reported last month, two Yves Saint Laurent biopics are slated for production: “Saint Laurent”, directed by Bertrand Bonello, and “Yves Saint Laurent”. However, only “Yves Saint Laurent” has the backing of Pierre Bergé, YSL’s former partner. Bergé, who inherited and subsequently sold much of YSL’s estate, surely has a unique recollection and perspective of YSL through personal experience, knowledge of YSL’s personal history and access to YSL’s personal records.
It turns out that “too good to be true” deal you scored on a Tiffany & Co. engagement ring at your local Costco wholesale store last month actually was just that. Tiffany & Co. filed a lawsuit against Costco this past Valentine’s Day after being tipped off by a customer located in California last November 2012 who complained to the company that she was disappointed to see the luxury jeweler’s diamond rings for sale at the discount wholesaler. (brandchannel). The tip moved Tiffany to launch an investigation during which the jeweler discovered that Costco had been falsely identifying engagement rings for sale in its store as “Tiffany” on in-store advertising signs for years and that in-store salespersons also referred to the rings as “Tiffany rings” when speaking with customers. (Complaint). Interestingly, the wholesaler did not identify the rings as “Tiffany” on their online website where Tiffany & Co.’s trademark policing could have easily picked up on the false identification suggesting Costco wanted to “avoid detection of it’s unlawful activities”. (Complaint).
The Navajo Nation has been battling Urban Outfitters since 2011 alleging that the apparel and furnishings merchant violated their trademark rights to the name “Navajo”. The controversy started when Urban Outfitters mass-produced more than 20 faux-native items called “Navajo” or “Navaho.” The Natives protested products like the “Hipster Navajo Panty” and the “Navajo Print Flask”.