“Festival fashion” has for several years now been a beast unto itself—a way for retailers to market a specific freewheeling style to consumers on the off-season—but it’s undeniable that its rise was tethered to the increasing popularity of Coachella, and the freedom-fantasy it brought with it.
Now, though, Coachella the festival is saying one retailer went a step too far. WWD reports that Coachella is suing Urban Outfitters by “improperly” using Coachella “trademarks” in branding clothes being sold by the line Free People, owned by UO. Though the items in question seem to have been scrubbed from Free People’s website, it appears their “Coachella Valley Tunic,” “Coachella Boot,” “Coachella Mini Dress” and “Coachella Pocket Tank” are at the center of the alleged infringement, which Coachella the festival says goes against its trademarks. (In 2015, for one, Coachella teamed up officially with H&M to market hippie-style festie wear of the sort pushed on the freewheeling consumers for this kind of event.) Says WWD:
While Coachella said Urban’s use of its marks is likely to cause “confusion” and “deceive consumers,” it also said the misbranding will dilute the Coachella brand “by blurring or by tarnishment” and amounts to unfair competition.
Moreover, Coachella said Urban “ignored Plaintiff’s demands to cease their unlawful conduct,” forcing the event to file suit in order to “protect the famous Coachella marks and to protect the public.”
Whether it matters that the Coachella Valley was the official name of the desert where Coachella takes place before it was a festival likely won’t matter. Coachella says in its filings that it has requested that Urban Outfitters cease and desist before; they’d like them to cease sale of the items in question and, writes WWD, “engage in ‘corrective advertising’ to inform consumers that the festival is in no way affiliated with Urban or Free People.”