#FashionOGnews: 'Victim fashion', trademark squatting and ASOS crack-down?
Photo: fake Supreme store, Shanghai
Last week, the fashion world gave us a lot of “WTF” news — whether it’s Supreme’s trademarking issues or Dutch Rail’s ‘Victim Fashion’ campaign. I hope you guys enjoy the update (and my commentary on each story, of course)!
Dutch rail is facing backlash for it’s replicas of clothing worn by people who were killed or injured in railway accidents. Called ‘Victim Fashion’ the campaign aims to encourage young people to be more careful around railway lines. Featuring jackets, shirts, dresses and more, they’re promoted under the slogan ‘Victim Fashion, made by accident.’ Each piece, similar to art I guess, is accompanied with descriptions of what happened to the person that wore it.
“An image of a scuffed trainer has a caption explaining that a 14-year-old was reaching out for a phone she dropped on the track when a train hit her. Now almost 15, she is still in a coma.”
Although this seems ridiculous to most normal people, apparently they deemed it ‘necessary’ due to rising deaths in related incidents (tripled since 2016). Survivors, train drivers etc have called out the campaign deeming it triggering and traumatizing, and the government calling it important but ‘unnecessarily severe.’
Nonetheless, ProRail deems the campaign successful because people are talking about it --as we are right now.
One of my favourite topics in the fashion world as of late? The serial returner! While they’ve done this through extending their returns period to 45 days, anything past the 28 days no longer gets a refund -- but instead an ASOS gift voucher.
In addition to this, they will also be cracking down on accounts that return a lot -- and potentially denying those people refunds in the future (and their accounts on ASOS could also get deleted or blocked from the site).
While I think it is longer overdue for ASOS to be addressing this, I’m not sure how it will make any difference. Perhaps they’re hoping serial returners won’t read the fine print? And will instead just see a positive newsstory about ASOS extending it’s return policy?
If you’ve ever worked for a brand or an online retailer, then you likely know that returns are a total pain for the company. Even if they charge you for returns shipping (most reasonable people don’t), it still costs a company money and is still a waste of time, resources and environmental impact.
Sustainability advocates everywhere were rolling their eyes at H&M last week. The latest H&M conscious collection debuted vegan orange peel silk and pineapple leather to the masses.
In addition to this paradoxically sustainable collection, H&M also offers a clothing recycling scheme in which you can return used clothes in exchange for a £5 clothing voucher.
While I admire textile innovation -- and if bigger companies embrace it, it will become easier for smaller companies to get the materials as well -- I just find this so superficial. Ultimately, H&M aren’t a ‘conscious’ company -- they debut new clothes every week, and a throwaway mindset towards one’s closet. From this, I feel largely positive, but with an undercurrent of annoyance. I know, deep down, that the ‘conscious’ collection will just be another unworn top in someone’s closet, rather than a staple item worn for years to come.
I love the Olsen twins. I love The Row -- and they’re coming to London soon. On the brand, the Olsen’s characterize it as:
“The whole exercise was to see whether, if something was made beautifully, in great fabric, with good fit, it would sell without a logo or a name on it,” they explain. “And it worked.”
I think it’s perfect for Londoners -- their clientele are all about ‘money is no object’ and ‘silhouette and quality fabric’ and that look is really IN right now. While I can’t afford to spend 8k on a coat, I will definitely be popping into their store for a visit -- I’m sure the opening party will be epic!
In an exclusive interview with BoF, Supreme founder James Jebbia shared his thoughts on the rampant problem Supreme are dealing with globally -- trademark squatting. Essentially, if you create a trademarked brand in one country, but do not trademark it in every single other, people can take your trademark in another country, and copy your entire brand there -- these are called ‘legal’ fakes.
For Supreme, the main thorn in Jebbia’s side is Italy’s International Brand Firm -- which owns Supreme Italia and Supreme Spain. They have also taken the trademarks for Supreme in 50 other countries. The problem? Even for Supreme getting it’s own trademark, it’s name was considered ‘too general’ when being trademarked in the USA.
Last December, Samsung in China announced a collaboration with Supreme -- but it wasn’t actually Supreme. Rather, it was IBF’s Supreme -- and Samsung had no idea. There’s also a Supreme Italia store in Shanghai -- with the respective queue down the block to go with it (of course, the fakers paid people to queue).
On the topic, Jebbia laments; “I don’t think another company has really had to deal with this like we have [...]. This is a whole new level with this criminal enterprise — these complete imposters and impersonators.”
For me, I think this story is an incredible lesson to anyone starting a brand. Get your legal stuff sorted early! As well, maybe trademark your brand in other countries before other people can? That being said, the real Supreme customer wouldn’t even purchase this knock-off product. However, the danger is that in the age of social media, fakes can make us get tired of brands faster than ever.
That’s it for this week, thanks so much for tuning in! I’d love to know: what was your favourite story from this week? Any I missed? If you’d like, listen to the audio companion to this blog post below: