There’s no doubt that The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman–largely (and rightfully) credited as one of the first street style sites–has reached a level of success that most bloggers and street style photogs could only dream of. In fact he’s so successful that he’s helped inspire a whole new generation of aspiring street style snappers. The only problem? Some of them are using his name.
This week, the Daily Beast published an article profiling the burgeoning college street style blog, the Campus Sartorialist. Founded by Duke University student Robert Wainblat, the site offers a unique snapshot at the stylish students who roam college campuses all over the world, using a global network of student photographers who snap the street style stars in their local campuses. It’s a smart idea and, one that’s already caught the eye of a few industry VIPs–including Schuman himself, who, according to the article, reached out to Wainblat, claiming trademark infringement on the word ‘Sartorialist’ and asked him to change the name of the blog.
There’s no doubt that when you hear the word ‘Sartorialist’ you immediately think of Scott Schuman–but does that mean the street style photog has trademark rights to the word? We spoke to the man himself and the answer, it turns out, is pretty much yes. “I trademarked my name a long time ago,” he told me. “It was one of the first things I did…I don’t know why, I just thought it was a good name.”
And it’s a good thing too, because this isn’t the first time Schuman has had to deal with other unaffiliated sites using his name. “The tricky part is, it’s not like this has happened once. This has happened multiple times,” Schuman said, telling us of a few cases where he had to convince other bloggers using a variation on The Sartorialist to change their name.
“The hard part is most of the work [on these sites] is very good,” he continued. “So when they start getting more interest, and become more successful, that’s when it starts to create confusion [with my brand.] When you start calling in samples, and it’s under my name, of course people are going to confuse it with me. And then if something goes wrong, and that brand has a bad experience with site that has my name on it, they’re going to come to me and be upset with me. So I have to protect my brand. You know, that’s just basic business 101.”
Schuman said that in the case of the Campus Sartorialist, he acted particularly quickly because the site was already getting advertisers. “If a site uses my name and it’s just for friends and for family, then that’s okay. But, you know, it’s hard to get advertisers, and I don’t want them to be confused.”
Schuman added that college students are already a big part of his audience, and that because many street style photographers shoot in a way that is similar to–or in some cases, directly inspired by–Schuman’s work, it’s reasonable to think that some people might get confused between the two sites. So it follows that he’d want the site to change his name.
That being said, Schuman isn’t trying to shut Campus Sartorialist down–and he’s hoping to avoid any sort of legal action. “We’ve asked them nicely [to change their name] before doing anything else, so hopefully, it can be resolved that way,” he said. “This young gentlemen goes to Duke, and Duke is a very smart school with a lot of smart people, so hopefully–I’m sure–he’s a nice smart guy.”
“I think [the site is] very charming and I love that entrepreneurial spirit,” he added. “I love that he’s been able to create something that has really resonated. When you get stat real natural response [from readers] that’s a very special thing in marketing. So I really hope the site doesn’t close, I hope he just comes up with a different name. I would love to figure out some way of working this out with him.”
“I really hate this part of my job, I hate being put in this position, feeling like I’m the establishment trying to squash someone’s dream. I don’t want to do that,” he said. “But the site is good, it doesn’t need my name to be successful.”