This is a strange one that we’re still having trouble wrapping our heads around: Victoria’s Secret is being accused of misleading customers and producing cheaper “knockoffs” of its own legwear. Zephyrs, which was a hosiery supplier to the lingerie giant, alleges that Victoria’s Secret is still using images of Zephyrs-produced hosiery on its packaging, but that the product inside is no longer produced by Zephyrs and is of lesser quality. And now Zephyrs is suing the lingerie giant to the tune of $15 million.
The owner and president of the New Jersey-based brand, Debra Mackinnon, told WWD that she noticed that VS was still using old images on its packaging, but when she looked at the product, it was markedly different. The company alleges the hosiery had “cheaper lace trims, irregular borders, missing heel reinforcements and less durable construction.” The packaging also indicated that the hosiery was made in Canada, where previously it had been made in Italy.
Zephyrs contends that Victoria’s Secret committed a breach of contract for “directly contacting Zephyrs’ suppliers,” providing “unfair competition,” and “false advertising in violation of federal and state consumer protection laws, including consumer fraud in California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Ohio.” In the lawsuit, Zephyrs is looking for Victoria’s Secret to correct its advertising and to recall some of the products in question, including Lace Top Fish Net Stockings, Fish Net Thigh-Highs With Backseam and a Signature Stripe Thigh-High With Bows.
Mackinnon also noted that Victoria’s Secret wouldn’t accept $100,000 worth of merchandise they were waiting to deliver to stores, because–according to her–she wouldn’t sign a master sourcing agreement that would essentially require Zephyrs to hand over all its intellectual property and sign a non-compete, which would ultimately put the small company out of business. Above the Law reached out to Zephyrs’ lawyer, Joseph Gioconda who said, “As the jury’s verdict in the Apple/Samsung decision reflects, designers’ rights must be protected, regardless of whether the infringer is a small, fly-by-night operation or a large corporation.” We reached out to Victoria’s Secret and they officially have no comment on the case.
Have you noticed a difference in the quality of Victoria’s Secret hosiery? Let us know!