Label Whores and Logo Wars

When news of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers lawsuit against our favorite cheapie chic mall chain Forever 21 got some buzz last week, I couldn’t help but think “Just let it go Gwen… everybody copies everybody, including YOU!”

I love Mz. Stefani (she’s my cool mama idol actually) but even those with a casual interest in fashion can see that her L.A.M.B line is more than a little “inspired” by Vivienne Westwood, while Harajuku is very much like Hysteric Glamour.

Label Whores and Logo Wars

The above photo was taken at the Harajuku launch party at the Max Factor Museum, and the line's Hysteric flavor was mentioned by more than a couple of the designer types that night.

Anyway, I remembered seeing the piece in question at Forever in the Glendale Galleria a few weeks ago, and easily found a shot of it and its inspiration, on the net.

The tee so blatantly rips the Harajuku black heart logo (instead of “Harajuku” it has a “Forever” inside) that now I’m kinda thinking the suit has merit. Copying styles, cuts, even certain design signature details are one thing, but logos (which are trademarked) are entirely another.

I learned about the seriousness of trademark law after I interviewed Rick Klotz, and it’s no joke, as this makes clear.

It looks like F21’s high fashion hi-jackings are even more shameless than we knew. A little web surfin’ reveals they’ve also copied Anna Sui and Diane Von Furstenberg (my two all time favorite designers), reproducing their dresses down to the last detail. Of course that doesn’t include fabric. Anyone who owns any 21 knows most of the materials they use are flimsy at best.

So should self-respecting style mavens ban the store?

Some actually advocate the opposite as a statement against the outrageous price-tags and frivolity of the label-whore aesthetic, but I’m not ready to go that far.

For most of us, the lure of designer duds is something to give in to occasionally, a special splurge for a quality piece here, a birthday gift request for a glamorous frock there. My wardrobe is specked with some pricey labels, yes, but I’ve also got a bunch of vintage, stuff from mid-priced stores like The Gap and Target and yes, quite a few piles of Forever 21- many of which I’m wearing a lot of lately. They’ve got a killer selection of sundresses right now, and the pieces I've snatched recently look like knock-offs of my vintage mini's and long dresses rather than any one designer. (Actually, this is what the big designers themselves copy, so I guess you could call 'em second generation lookalikes! Oy vey!)

See for the most extensive list of 21’s copy cats.

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