Is Victoria's Secret Stealing Its Competitors' Ideas?
Victoria’s not-so-secret bottom line? The brand’s sales are declining. Whether the result of having narrowed their focus to lingerie and beauty (so long, swim and apparel), or perhaps the alienation that comes with VS’s refusal to feature models who are larger than sample size—things aren’t exactly angelic beyond the lacy gates.
Through the stasis, we assumed the lingerie giant was set in retaining its specific and uncompromised brand identity at all (literal) costs—but Victoria’s Secret’s latest collection has us rethinking everything.
While the brand isn’t about to hire a model whose thighs touch (God forbid), VS’s new line shows us a different side of the company—one that’s less concerned with originality and more interested in, um, stealing their competitors’ ideas … ?
OK, “stealing” might be harsh, but it’s difficult to look at VS’s new “Logo Mania” collection and not feel a tinge of sartorial déjà vu. The line features simple, solid-colored garments with block print waistbands and bra straps reading the well-known brand name from hem to hem.
Cool idea, no? Well, it was … when Calvin Klein introduced it. As Business Insider pointed out, CK underwear has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past few years (same-store sales were up 4 percent at the end of 2017), so it's no surprise that others would want to cash in on their idea.
That being said, is the copycat branding enough to warrant legal ramifications? According to Jeff Trexler, Associate Director at Fordham Law School’s Fashion Law Institute, a legal claim would be something of a stretch.
“Victoria's Secret does not appear to be copying the logo itself, nor does there appear to be any copying of a garment design protected by copyright or a design patent, at least from what I can see from the material depicted on the ad,” he told InStyle.
Fashion Law Institute Founder and Director Susan Scafidi echoed that sentiment, explaining, “The battle of the (waist)bands appears more likely to play out in the court of public opinion than in a court of law. The underwear styles are certainly similar, but clothing designs generally have little protection under U.S. law—and even in a jurisdiction with design protection such as the E.U., it’s likely that these would be considered generic."
Ultimately, there's not much Calvin Klein can do. "PVH [Calvin Klein's parent company] may reasonably suspect that VS is attempting to come between the millennial customer and her Calvins, but unless VS were to use the CK logo, the company has little legal recourse."
She adds that "underwear that taps into both the new logomania and post-#MeToo, body-positive empowerment should feel authentic—and consumers may question the message conveyed by knockoff knickers.”
So, as “uncool” as it is knock off a brand’s signature style, Victoria’s Secret is legally A-OK to do so. The true backlash, if any, will present itself in the company’s sales.