The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters alleging breach of trademark and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act. And so the infamous "Navajo Hipster Panty" and "Navajo Flask" will have their day in court. The Navajo Nation holds numerous trademarks on the use of its name, including trademarks governing clothing and accessories; it views the Urban Outfitters' products as offensive in nature, but also as a threat to the established Navajo brand, which the Nation says stands for quality, Navajo-made jewelry, clothing, and accessories — not imported Urban Outfitters tat. For more legal analysis of the dispute when it broke in October, we spoke to fashion law and intellectual property expert professor Susan Scafidi here. She said at the time:
"From my personal perspective — Navajo is a people, not a pattern," says Scafidi. Trademark protection is strong, and the Navajo Nation's trademarks are detailed. "But legally, Urban Outfitters does have a couple of defenses. In the case of the Indian Arts And Crafts Act, they might very well say, 'Look, this is not an art or a craft.' And in the case of the trademark, they might say, 'Well, on those particular products there are other trademarks that indicate the source of the good, and that we believe nobody would be confused by the word Navajo.'" Urban Outfitters could argue that it is not using "Navajo" as a name or a trademark, but as a descriptor (although that might be difficult given that the chain offers 21 items for sale with "Navajo" in the name). "It's not a clear-cut issue," says Scafidi.
Meanwhile, Urban Outfitters can add another ethnic group to its list of people it has pissed off with its products: the Irish. Some of whom object to the retailer's St. Patrick's Day merch. "There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate," says the (awesomely named) Seamus Boyle of the (awesomely named) Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, "but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores." [MyFoxNY]
Philippines FHM has pulled its March cover after a public outcry over what it depicted — a light-skinned Filipina actor surrounded by dark-skinned models in bikinis, some of whom were made up to look black. In case you didn't grasp the whole black-people-as-anonymous-objectified-exotic-background thing, the cover line was, "Stepping out of the shadows." [ONTD]
Kanye West's weird, beaded Michelin-man shoes found one retail buyer: Colette in Paris. Price upon application, natch. [@ColetteParis]
V's new issue — the "Sports" issue — features Jennifer Lopez on the cover, wearing a boxing cup. [DS]
- Now here's an interesting rumor: according to someone who works at Christian Dior headquarters in Paris, a bouquet of flowers arrived there recently for a "Mr. Ackermann." As in...Haider? Who doesn't actually work at Dior, but runs his own namesake label? The designer — who has been rumored to be under consideration for the top job at Dior — isn't saying. [Fashionista]
- Meanwhile, according to "sources" who spoke to Hintmag, Raf Simons might not be headed to Dior after all:
Dior initiated contact and negotiations were moving along swimmingly, aided by the fact that the Belgian designer felt his time at Jil Sander had reached its natural and amicable end. In fact the two parties were close to an agreement until the last round of negotiations, when, according to our source, Simons asked for too high a salary. Consequently, Dior CEO Sidney Toledano halted discussions and signed Bill Gayten on for six more seasons.
Bill Gaytten is the Dior studio head (and former assistant to John Galliano) whose placeholder collections for Dior have been, to put it mildly, uneven. (But which Dior says have sold well enough.) Simons might simply continue to design his eponymous men's wear line. [Hintmag]
- Marisa Berenson shares a remembrance of her grandmother, Elsa Schiaparelli, in the new V. The designer didn't like her first name, so people called her "Schiap." Writes Berenson, "My grandmother was much more an artist than a designer. Coco Chanel was a dressmaker and was jealous of her." [WWD]
- Kelly Cutrone says she took the America's Next Top Model judging gig for the money. And because of Hurricane Irene.
"You know, my house in Cold Spring got damaged from a hurricane over the summer, so I needed to repair a lot of damage that my shitty flood insurance company refused to cover. What's the point of having flood insurance if they only repair like two inches of your walls? I have Vivienne Westwood wallpaper! I thought, it'd be great to make some extra cash so I can pay for my Westwood wallpaper habit. I love it. I mule it back myself in a box from London so it doesn't get all squashed being shipped. And I get a discount from Vivienne's son. He gives me the good stuff."
- Tory Burch and her ex-husband Chris Burch had a pretty friendly relationship — right up until Chris decided to open a store that Tory feels is based on her own company's retail concept and designs. Tory Burch forced Chris out of his co-chairmanship of her company, although he remains a board member and a shareholder. A "source" says Tory doesn't want to sue, but will as a last resort. "Tory has always said she wants Chris to be successful. He's a great entrepreneur, but she wants him to do something unique and original, not to knock off her products." [P6]
- Fashion designers in Detroit are working to design things that are of use to the homeless — like a coat that zips to form a wind- and waterproof sleeping bag, and bags with a rubber base that can be used to carry things or worn as bad-weather boots (instead of trash bags). All of the designers are students and recent graduates of the College for Creative Studies, an art and design school that has courses in design activism. [NYTimes]
- Target is joining Levi's, H&M, Versace, and other brands in pledging to no longer carry sand-blasted jeans. The garment workers who sand-blast denim are prone to rare and sometimes fatal lung diseases caused by their exposure to airborne particulate matter in the sand-blasting factories. [Ecouterre]
- Like a polite princess, Kate Middleton visited the Royal School of Needlework to personally thank the people who worked on the lace that became her wedding dress. [Vogue UK]
- Huh. Reuters has noticed that most models start working in their early teens and age out of the career by their mid-20s, and wrote an article about it. One agent estimates that around 70% of the girls we see on the runway each season are brand new faces; the turnover is so high because new girls are cheap. Many work for free, or for trade. [Reuters]
- Andrej Pejic is reportedly being considered for the lead role in a new adaptation of Balzac's Séraphîta, which is about an androgynous Swedish youth raised on Swedenborgian principles. [The Cut]
- When Hermès sold its 45% stake in Jean Paul Gaultier to the fashion conglomerate Puig, the price was $23 million — and the debt Puig assumed was $20 million. The Times reports that the problems at the label
began in 2005, after an aggressive expansion that initially included plans to open 200 stores. While annual sales of Gaultier-branded products like sunglasses and his popular torso-shaped fragrances have been reported around $700 million over the last decade, those products are mostly licensed to other companies, and the royalties to the designer could not offset the costly couture operation he started in 1997 in addition to the new headquarters. The Gaultier company's income was down to about 24 million euros in 2010, from 28 million euros in 2004, according to figures reported by Hermès.
Gaultier, for his part, says that his couture division now breaks even. The museum show dedicated to his work that opened last year in Montreal before traveling to Dallas opens later this month in San Francisco. [NYTimes]
- Alber Elbaz says that although he is marking ten years in charge at Lanvin, he is not in a self-congratulatory mood. "No proudest achievements. Nothing is ever enough for me. I'm always thinking what is wrong, what needs to be fixed," he says. "I feel 10 years older, but no more relaxed." [WWD]
- And now, a moment with designer/newly minted hotelier Roberto Cavalli. Roberto, what do you think of Armani's competing hotel?
"Between Armani and me there is an abyss," he told La Repubblica. "Have you seen that new hotel? It looks like a psychiatric hospital," before adding an unconvincing: "Of course, I love Armani."