January 2010 Archives

Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York must be glad that getting dressed for work involves hiding his suit under a black robe.  After having his decision in JA Apparel Corp. v. Abboud overturned by the Second Circuit, reading another round of "hefty" briefs from the corporation and the designer, and writing a  new 59-page opinion released yesterday, the last thing any judge would want to think about is menswear. 

Still, the name game may not be over yet.  While the designer may use his name in a descriptive fashion that is not likely to cause confusion with the JOSEPH ABBOUD trademark he sold to JA Apparel, the parties will likely continue to spar over details like the size and placement of Mr. Abboud's name in his print advertising. 

A bit sad, really, to consider all of the creative layouts and ad pages that could've been purchased with the money spent on legal fees -- unless, of course, you're doing the billing.

Previous posts:  A Rose By Any Other Name, More Name Games: Joseph Abboud, Still More Name Games: Joseph Abboud

Not GuILTy

gilt_logo.jpgFor the online discount retailer Gilt Groupe, it's a Monday.

This morning's comment thread on a routine Gilt blog post about an upcoming theme sale -- merch to make those New Year's resolutions a bit more palatable -- turned into a forum for concern about the alleged sale of a counterfeit handbag on the site.  After Zun39 posted a claim that a previously purchased Cole Haan bag was fake, but that (s)he was keeping it anyway, other users responded with concern.  After all, approximately 50-80% off retail is a tremendous bargain, but only if the product is real in the first place.

Gilt should be proud of its loyal member/customer base, however.  Dozens of satisfied customers joined the thread to contradict the allegation.  Many surmised that Zun39 was from a competing site, perhaps engaging in a bit of sock puppetry -- so last decade.  By the time that Gilt CEO Susan Lyne weighed in to note that Gilt does not sell fakes and in fact deals directly with Cole Haan as a "brand partner," the extra assurance was almost unnecessary.   

Nevertheless, the consumer anxiety apparently provoked by the post speaks to a real concern.  It's one thing to spot fake merchandise on a street corner; it's quite another to figure out whether a website is selling the real thing or not.  Gilt is an authorized discount seller of each brand featured on the site and posts a guarantee of authenticity with each product description.  But the success of Gilt Groupe, its French predecessor Vente-privee, and other legitimate online discounters like Rue La La, Ideeli, and OutNet has spawned many copycat sites that only pretend to sell the real thing -- often at prices low enough to be irresistible but higher than those for admitted "replicas."

As always, Counterfeit Chic's rule for the cautious consumer looking for an online bargain is caveat emptor.  But Gilt, like other established sites, really is golden.  
As cultural property goes, there may be no symbol more contested than the swastika.  But whether it calls to mind Hitler's horrors or Hindu/Buddhist blessings, one place that Counterfeit Chic didn't expect to see it was on the new Marc Jacobs Fluo Passementary Lily Hobo bag at Barneys

Swastika_bag_2_Marc_Jacobs.jpg
Marc Jacobs Fluo Passementary Lily Hobo bag, $1495.

True, Marc's presumably inadvertent passementerie faux pas is a left-facing version rather than the right-facing symbol used by Nazis and other right-wing nasties, but it still packs a an unpleasant psychological punch for the unwary shopper.  As in right hook.  

This isn't the first time in recent memory that a swastika has found its way onto an otherwise innocuous bag.  In 2007, the Spanish fast-fashion chain Zara reportedly recalled a bag decorated with cheery flowers, bicycles, and yes, a swastika.  Perhaps Mrs. Jacobs' charming son will consider doing the same.  In the meantime, however, travelers to Germany and other countries that legally restrict the display of the infamous symbol should play it safe and choose one of Marc's other designs for spring.

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Zara bag, as shown on Bag Snob.

P.S. For an in-depth study of actual fashion in Germany from the end of WWI through the Third Reich, check out Prof. Irene Guenther's Nazi Chic?