Brooklyn-based label Walker Wear is taking Virgil Abloh‘s Off-White to court for trademark infringement with a lawsuit filed on August 21, 2021. The suit was inspired by a $2,234 varsity jacket featuring a prominent W positioned on either side of the front of the jacket. While making use of a typical chenille sport letterman font, each one is slightly different.
According to The Fashion Law, the brand is alleging the jacket takes inspiration from Walker Wear’s WW XXL mark, which the suit claims has been in use since 1993 when the brand was founded.
Walker filed a still pending trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for registration for a mark consisting of “stylized letters WW and the stylized letters XXL and the wording ATHLETIC WALKER WEAR in upper case letters” in March 2021 for use on jackets, athletic shirts, sports shirts, sweat shirts and t-shirts.
The suit notes that Abloh has admitted to using a design cheat code, which translates to creating a new design by changing only three per cent of an existing creation.
“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 alleged, adding, “Off-White and its founder, Virgil Abloh, have an unfortunate history of deriving from the creativity of other designers.”
Walker Wear initially sent a cease and desist letter to Off-White, requesting the halt of sales of any garment with the WW logo in June of this year. Saks Fifth Avenue and Farfetch, both stocklists of the soon-to-be LVMH-owned Off-White, also received a cease and desist letter from Walker Wear, but continued to sell the jacket.
In analysis of the suit, The Fashion Law noted that Walker Wear’s trademark application cites “slightly overlapping” Ws in its description, which is different from the positioning of the two Ws on Off-White’s jacket.
Off-White has pushed back on the suit by alleging Walker Wear hasn’t consistently used the WW mark throughout its history, while adding that use of a double W is commonly used as a decorative design within the apparel space.