Black-Woman Owned Clothing Company Suing Virgil Abloh's Off-White
Walker Wear has been worn by hip-hop stars such as Tupac, Biggie, LL Cool J and Aaliyah.
August 25, 2021 at 3:54 pm
Fashion designer Walker Wear is suing Virgil Abloh, founder of the Off-White brand, for allegedly selling a $2,234 jacket that has “a design nearly identical" to the plaintiff's WW XXL Athletic mark. According to Fashion Law, Walker Wear said Off-White continues to sell the jacket despite being told that the item is causing confusion among consumers.
The plaintiff claims to have been using the WW XXL Athletic mark and related designs, led by “streetwear pioneer” April Walker, since at least 1993. Many of the most famous hip-hop entertainers have worn the jacket and it has been the subject of extensive media coverage through the years, the complaint states.
The New York-based brand adds that it has “invested substantial time, effort, and resources in developing the [WW XXL Athletic] trademark and trade dress rights.”
Additionally, the company says the marks have “become widely associated with Walker Wear and acquired substantial recognition, goodwill, and fame.”
According to the complaint, the Walker Wear mark “consists of two stylized W’s, centered and slightly overlapping,” typically appearing "in silver, set off against a dark blue or black background.”
“This shape and color stylization is unique in the fashion industry, and renders the mark and trade dress inherently distinctive,” the lawsuit states, adding that “Off-White and its founder, Virgil Abloh, have an unfortunate history of deriving from the creativity of other designers.”
Put some respect on April Walker’s name — A Black woman pioneered urbanwear + created the formula that today’s streetwear brands leverage— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) July 21, 2020
Big, Pac, Jay — Her list of Hip Hop clients is endless. pic.twitter.com/jX5QI6dL5M
Walker Wear also claims to have filed trademark paperwork for the right to use the logo solely. Now choosing to file a motion for a preliminary injunction, Walker Wear said it's aiming to make sure Abloh will desist from “making unauthorized use of the Walker Wear mark for the duration of the litigation.”
"Given Ms. Walker’s iconic status in the streetwear fashion industry and Mr. Abloh’s knowledge of the industry, Off-White was almost certainly aware of the mark prior to designing, producing, and selling the infringing jacket,” the complaint states.
According to Essence, April Walker emerged three decades ago as one of streetwear’s first female founders. The designer's Walker Wear brand, which was prominent in the 1990s, has been worn by hip-hop stars such as Tupac, Biggie, LL Cool J and Aaliyah.