A New York Souvenir Wholesaler Is Suing Balenciaga Over a Bag
Fashion rarely springs from a blank canvas. Creatives regularly draw inspiration from past trends and their everyday lives. Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s artistic director since 2015 and founder of Vetements, is no stranger to the concept, as he is (in)famous for ironically borrowing from pop culture and everyday ‘normal’ clothes before spicing them up with a boosted price tag and broad dose of branding. A few examples of Gvasalia’s quirky approach to fashion include opening the Vetements spring 2016 show with a DHL (yes, the German courier) t-shirt or accessorizing Balenciaga’s runway with oversized Ikea-inspired blue tote bags.
Left: A souvenir NYC tote bag in the JFK airport gift shop. Right: The Balenciaga version that’s retailing for $1950 right now. Demna, you sly dog! pic.twitter.com/dWG2Q3R3pP
— Alyssa Vingan Klein (@alyssavingan) February 25, 2018
The designer might have taken the ‘inspiration’ too far this time. Balenciaga is now facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over a Resort 2018 tote that looks a lot like the souvenir bag you’d find at a gift shop. Literally. The Balenciaga Multicoloured New York Bazar Shopper Tote Bag (which also has a matching leather clutch) resembles the kitschy merch sold for approximatively $19.99 in gifts shops all over New York…however, Gvasalia’s version retails for over $2,000.
A souvenir wholesaler, City Merchandise Inc., found the similarities too uncanny (can you blame them?) and proceeded to take legal action. The wholesaler alleges that Balenciaga crossed the thin line between inspiration and plagiarism when considering their design. According to Fashionista, the souvenir wholesaler is seeking “injunctive relief, recovery of damages and Balenciaga’s profits and/or statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.”