A few months ago, Britt wrote a story about a small-but-successful label called Bird, launched in 2006 by Los Angeles-based handbag designer Elizabeth Carey.
After Juicy Couture launched its own label, also called Bird, in 2009, Carey’s name and sales were cannibalized. She first attempted to reach out to Juicy Couture founders Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy informally about the issue, but soon enough Liz Claiborne, the conglomerate that currently owns Juicy Couture, was involved.
Carey was forced to sue the company. She told Britt in April that she wanted to accomplish only one thing: “I want people to support young designers. I trademarked my company and did everything I was supposed to do. It’s a good lesson for people who want to start a brand, to know this and know that it’s out there. A big conglomerate shouldn’t be allowed to do this.”
Yesterday, we were informed that Carey was forced to give up the fight. Her collection will re-launch as Liz Carey handbags this fall.
I spoke with Carey on the phone yesterday afternoon–she was at her showroom, selling off the last of the Bird-labeled items. While she obviously couldn’t go into great detail because of legal reasons, Carey did tell me that she settled with Claiborne. “The offered me an incredibly low settlement. It’s basically not that great, but it’ll pay off my legal fees,” she told me. “Liz Claiborne has quite a few lawyers on retainer. I’m paying for my own. Suing corporate America is just more than I could afford.”
Would she have won if it the case went to court? Quite possibly. But for Carey, it was no longer worth the fight. “I would have loved to have taken it to court, but it would have been so expensive,” she explained yesterday. “I wouldn’t have had the money to put out a collection.”
The good news? Carey’s eponymous collection will include classic Bird styles, with plenty of new designs mixed in. After all, this is a fresh start.
Carey sent a lovely goodbye letter to her loyal customers, which I’ve included below. She says of her new label, “If anyone wants that name, well they better give birth to it.”