Thursday, January 12, 2023

Zara Sues Company Over Knock-Offs

Zara, the Inditex-owned fast-fashion juggernaut known for ultra-low prices and designer imitations aplenty, doesn’t tolerate anyone giving it a taste of its own medicine. That’s sort of what reputedly LA-based Thilikó tried, at least.

As reported by industry watchdog The Fashion Law, Inditex is taking Thilikó to court over what it’s suit calls a “massive scam.”

The charge? Trying to pass off Zara clothes as Thilikó designs.

Zara is levying charges of copyright infringement and false advertising at Thilikó (and more!) with particular blame levied at the product photos displayed on Thilikó’s website.

As anyone can plainly see from searching Thilikó’s products on Zara’s site, the product and model shots are identical. Confusingly, the material descriptions are sometimes swapped — Zara lists the below sweater as “64% polyester, 18% acrylic, 10% wool, 5% alpaca, 3% elastane” while Thilikó purports that it’s “20% wool 80% polyester.”

Reverse-image searching the model shots on Thilikó’s website also turns up results from Chinese wholesale websites.

Presumably, Thilikó is simply drop-shipping Zara knock-offs from Chinese manufacturers — possibly even companies that produce Zara clothing, though that’s mere speculation — to stock its website full of stolen Zara photos.

The truly impressive part is that, while it promotes and sells imitation Zara, Thilikó masquerades as an ethical, sustainable fashion brand and thus sells its clothes at a shocking premium.

A dress that Zara sells for $49.90 retails for $328 at Thilikó, for instance. Further, by positioning itself as a “sustainable” brand, Thilikó secured distribution from multibrand retailer Wolf&Badger at some point and was even mentioned in a Vogue shopping round-up.

The final nail in the coffin comes when one simply checks the “our story” and “Thilikó For Good” sections of Thilikó’s website.

These are the cornerstones of a truly quality-conscious brand: a strong mission statement, breakdown of steps taken to ensure ethical production, and clear explanation of brand values.

Instead, you find text copy-pasted from Nanushka’s biography and New York bag brand Behno, except with Thilikó’s name pasted in, complete with identical imagery in certain cases.

All in all, pretty hard to argue the case in favor of happenstance.

Thilikó is apparently wise to the troubles, as the latest product uploaded to its site has replaced the stolen Zara photos with selfies taken by Instagram influencers, including Swedish Vlogger Emelie Natascha.

Zara is looking to win some cash from Thilikó and prevent the company from continuing to use its images; the influencer photos seem to signify Thilikó’s next move.

Though there’s not much that can (or should) be said in Thilikó’s defense, it’s not like Zara has proven itself terribly sympathetic over the years.

Even just last month, Zara was accused of imitating a style created by lingerie designer Mary Young, for instance.

Not only can these independent designers never hope to financially stand toe-to-toe with Zara in court, but garment styles can rarely ever be legally protected, which is why you more frequently see legal battles over logos and branding rather than clothing styles.

But in this case, it’s a little more of the latter and the ball is, surprisingly, in Zara’s court.

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