On Wednesday, the label filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in New York against Trump and her shoe label partners M.B. Fisher LLC and Marc Fisher Footwear, for copying Aquazzura’s strappy, fringed Wild Thing sandal and Forever Marilyn pump. Trump distributes a strappy, fringed sandal under the style name Hettie and a black heel called Teagin.
According to documents filed with the court, Aquazzura sent a complaint to Trump’s line in March, asking that the Hettie shoe stop being sold in the U.S. Aquazzura also asked for the Trump Teagin style to be recalled, as the brand said it too closely resembled its own Forever Marilyn pump. Aquazzura founder Edgardo Osorio discussed the situation with FN in a May cover story.
The filing by Aquazzura argues that the Wild Thing in particular has sort of achieved a cult status in the fashion community, being listed as a consistent must-have by both retailers and fashion editors. Footwear News named Osorio as an Emerging Talent winner at the Achievement Awards in 2013 and then Designer of the Year in 2015. In a recent interview with FN, Osorio named it one of his most iconic styles.
The filing goes on to say that the popularity and exposure of the shoe has made it instantly recognizable and therefore subject to a “trade dress common law” protection, deceptive and unfair trade practices, and unfair competition. Because Aquazzura doesn’t see the shoes’ elements as functional, it argues Wild Thing and Forever Marilyn are protected by trade dress laws.
The suit by Aquazzura comes roughly five days after Fisher Footwear filed a complaint against Aquazzura arguing the brand’s claim for a trade dress rights for Forever Marilyn weren’t applicable. According to that filing in the U.S District Court in New York, Fisher said that in April it responded to the Aquazzura complaint against the style and said the shoe couldn’t be protected. The brand also reached out in May with a resolution for the disagreement, which was rejected by Aquazzura.
As a result, the Fisher filing on June 16 asks the courts to rule that the Teagin and Forever Marilyn styles from both brands listed as ineligible for the common dress protections.
Since the 2011 founding of Aquazzura by Osorio, intellectual property and design protection have been top concerns for the designer. Earlier this year, Osorio took to social media to point out the similarities between his Wild Thing style and Trump’s style.
One of the most disturbing things in the fashion industry is when someone blatantly steals your copyright designs and doesn't care. You should know better. Shame on you @ivankatrump! Imitation is NOT the most sincere form of flattery. #aquazzura #ivankatrump Proud of mine #madeinitaly #italiansdoitbetter 🇮🇹🇮🇹🇮🇹
In an interview with FN this spring, Osorio explained why he was especially passionate about design and protecting his styles.
“I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. It’s not only her, and I’m glad to do other posts,” Osorio said. “I plan to do the same with Steve Madden and other people who have ripped us off. Even some of my direct competitors are copying me. … Sometimes I look at the buys in department stores, and I see copies of my shoes. We need to be harder with our retailers. They need to protect us. You can’t cannibalize one business with another.”
A source close to Ivanka Trump’s team said they saw the style as an overall trend in the market, one that many other designers and mid-market labels had embraced.
In response to the lawsuit the Marc Fisher CFO Matthew Burris said, “This is a baseless lawsuit aimed at generating publicity. The shoe in question is representative of a trending fashion style, is not subject to intellectual property law protection and there are similar styles made by several major brands. The lawsuit is without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against the claim.”
Footwear News has reached out for comment from the Aquazzura.