Contracts, Fashion, Fashion Is Fun

Victoria’s Secret Sued for $15 Million Over Thigh-High Knockoffs

When it comes to women’s undergarments, like thigh-high stockings, consumers often don’t have quite as discerning of an eye as they would when it comes to things like handbags. After all, thigh-highs are predominantly used for sexual romps (unless a woman chooses to wear them to work, and if that were the case, we’d probably question her professional aspirations) — they’re meant to be ogled and salivated over briefly, if at all.

But that surely doesn’t grant the lingerie magnates of the world permission to sell cheaper thigh-high knockoffs at competing prices. According to a new lawsuit filed against Victoria’s Secret, women may be displeased to find out that their once high-quality underthings from Italy are now being manufactured in — gasp! — the land of the denim tuxedo….

In a $15 million lawsuit, Zephyrs, a former major hosiery supplier to VS, claims that the specialty chain has been selling cheap knockoffs under cover of packaging using images of Zephyrs-designed products. Here’s how the Huffington Post sums up the allegations: “Victoria’s Secret used to sell Zephyrs’ Italian-made hosiery, but cut ties with them, switched to a Canadian supplier and allegedly didn’t change images or text on the packaging, except for adding a ‘Made In Canada.'” And here we thought that only hockey players were proudly made in Canada.

Here’s just one of the many examples from the complaint (available in full on the next page):

Ugh, what a hack job. Perhaps Canadians ought to stick to being lumberjacks. Women’s Wear Daily (sub. req.) has all of the sexy little details on the case:

The main points of contention in the complaint include a breach of contract — which includes VS directly contacting Zephyrs’ suppliers; unfair competition, and false advertising in violation of federal and state consumer protection laws, including consumer fraud in California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Ohio. The suit also seeks corrective advertising and a recall of the accused products that are allegedly rendered in cheaper lace trims, irregular borders, missing heel reinforcements and less durable construction. The products in question include Lace Top Fish Net Stockings, Fish Net Thigh-Highs With Backseam and a Signature Stripe Thigh-High With Bows. Suggested retail prices average from $16 to $18.

When we reached out to Zephyrs’s lawyer — Joseph Gioconda, a former equity partner at DLA Piper, who left DLA to start the Gioconda Law Group — he noted the following: “As the jury’s verdict in the Apple/Samsung decision reflects, designers’ rights must be protected, regardless of whether the infringer is a small, fly-by-night operation or a large corporation.”

(Yes, everything is going to be likened to the Applesung verdict for the indefinite future, even alleged Lanham Act violations. Get used to it, folks.)

To paraphrase, it doesn’t matter if a designers’ proverbial cup size doth floweth over like that of Victoria’s Secret, because even those on the itty-bitty-titty committee still need some support.

If you’re interested in reading the complaint, and seeing sexier exhibits from the complaint, you can check them out on the following page….

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