On Cyber Monday, along with millions of Americans I was scouring the Internet for the best deals. While many were looking for deals on electronics, housewares, toys and so on, my search was strictly fashion-related (naturally!). And, even though my closet is overflowing, I cannot resist a good sale!
I came across online retailer, Daily Look, who was offering a pretty good deal of 30% off their entire website plus free shipping. I had heard of Daily Look before and after browsing the website, I came to the conclusion that Daily Look had some pretty cute pieces at pretty reasonable prices! It reminded me of Nasty Gal, Tobi, and Lulu’s, offering trendy pieces for reasonable prices with the random expensive piece thrown in here and there.
Now, as I was doing my browsing, something caught my eye. I have a slight obsession with all things Chloé, in particular the ‘Marcie’ collection (I have a satchel, a crossbody and a wallet…and I still want more). So when I saw this purse under the Accessories section of Daily Look, I was surprised to see Chloé selling through this e-retailer. However, upon further inspection, I noticed that it wasn’t a Chloé bag but a copy of my beloved bags at the low price of $49.99.
Daily Look Classic Saddlebag Purse via dailylook.com
I was even more shocked because of how nearly identical the two bags are. From the shape of the bag, to the piping, to the tassels, everything is identical to the Chloé Marcie Crossbody bag. The only thing missing is the Chloé name embossed on the front of the bag.
Chloé Mini ‘Marcie’ Bag via net-a-porter.com
I then kept browsing through the Bags section, and came across identical copies of the Céline ‘Luggage’ Bag with the identical trapezoid shape, piping, placement of the front pocket and handle design.
I also saw a handbag that is identical to the Chanel ‘Boy’ Bag with once again an identical shape, quilted pattern, piping, use of hardware in the clasp, and a chain strap.
Now, you may be asking how is it possible for Daily Look to be selling these bags with no repercussions. After all, there are countless news stories about how counterfeit bags are being seized daily. The answer is that Daily Look never claims that these bags are Chloé, Céline or Chanel. The descriptions for all three bags clearly states that the bags are of the Daily Look brand and no logos or brand names are used in the descriptions or on the products. So, technically, they aren’t counterfeit products as they aren’t pretending to be something they’re not. Or, are they?
Under Intellectual Property Law, there could be an argument that they are in fact pretending to be something they’re not. Currently, there is no copyright protection over fashion design, however, trademark can give brands protection over their designs, particularly their iconic pieces that are highly recognizable to consumers.
Here, all three brands could argue an infringement of trademark/trade dress under the likelihood of confusion test. Under this argument, the brands would have to show that the elements copies are not functional, but rather decorative and that the average consumer would be confused about from where the product originated.
The brands would also have to prove distinctiveness, meaning they would have to show that the elements copied are signifiers of their brand. In my opinion, I think that the copies elements of all three bags – Chloé’s piping and tassels, Céline’s trapezoid shape and piping, and Chanel’s quilted design, piping, and placement of the buckle – are huge signifiers of each brand. There is no doubt that any consumer who is aware of fashion would attribute those elements to their respective brands.
I doubt any real legal action will come from these pieces. However, it’s interesting to see how brazen some companies can be in misappropriating the design of luxury pieces that are currently popular and trendy. But, as long as there is fashion and luxury, there imitations. After all, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?