Walker Wear’s April Walker is taking legal action against Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand.
In a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York on Friday, the streetwear brand founder claimed that Abloh’s label committed federal and state trademark infringement, unfair competition and unfair business practices.
According to the suit, Off-White is selling a $2,234 bomber jacket at Saks Fifth Avenue and Farfetch.com that features a design mark “that is virtually identical” to a design often used by Walker Wear — the WW XXL Athletic mark design. The “streetwear-style jacket” includes two Silver W’s on a dark background, which the complaint alleges “closely resemble those on Walker Wear’s designs, broadly outlined with flat serifs (i.e., extending tips) at the top of each W.”
FN has reached out to Off-White for a comment.
The Fashion Law first reported on the complaint, which also named Saks Fifth Avenue and Farfetch.com as defendants for selling the item in question.
Walker Wear, one of the few female-led streetwear brands, was founded by Walker in 1990. The Walker Wear “WW XXL Athletic mark” is protected by intellectual property rights and trademark and trade dress rights, the complaint states.
In addition to arguing that the WW Mark will likely cause consumers to mistakenly believe that Walker Wear has any affiliation with the jacket, the suit claims that the use of the mark “dilutes the value of the WW Mark” and causes economic harm to Walker Wear.
In a blog post earlier this week, Walker explained her decision to file suit against Off-White.
“Despite the foundations we laid, many female brown and black designers still face the same ‘invisible’ challenges, including that the big fashion houses like Off-White take our designs without permission and companies like Saks enable the conduct by selling articles with the stolen designs,” wrote Walker, who has previously publicly advocated against design appropriation. “They apparently believe they can get away with it, betting that we’d be outgunned if we challenged them in legal proceedings.”
The streetwear industry is known to be heavily male dominated, though some female designers — including Walker, Melody Ehsani and others — have made inroads in recent years.
In her post, Walker said that the incident with Off-White highlighted her previous experiences as a Black Mexican woman in the fashion industry, which she described as “double oppression” due to gender and race.
“Building my business in a predominantly white and male culture, I was keenly aware of the obstacles, but I’m sick and tired of being sick,” Walker wrote. “Amends must be made.”