Pull up a chair and break out a fan, you guys. New Balance and Karl Lagerfeld are going to court! The footwear company has filed a lawsuit against the Chanel and Fendi mastermind for “intellectual property rights related to [their] iconic Lifestyle footwear designs.” And they’re not the only one who feel that Uncle Karl might’ve stepped on some toes in this sneaker war. Fashion blogger SHEFinds noted the similarities a few months ago.
This isn’t the first time Karl has courted controversy. Much like a beloved but insensitive elder relative, our favorite ponytailed Parisian has primarily been in trouble for his cutting quips about the likes of Adele, Pippa Middleton, Lana Del Rey, etc. Nor is it the first time that this kind of (alleged) intellectual property theft has occurred in the world of fashion.
Usually it’s mass-market brands that have been taken to task for knocking off runway looks and marketing them to a broader and more cost-conscious audience (a business strategy that fast-fashion giants such as Forever 21, H&M, Topshop, and Zara are built on). Or a high-end brand stands accused of appropriating an obscure subculture. Having a heavyweight like Lagerfeld lift from a mass-market brand presents an interesting wrinkle, considering fashion is an Ouroboros that constantly references and consumes itself.
Also worth considering is that Lagerfeld’s sneakers retail for $360 on sites like Net-A-Porter while New Balances sell for $130 or less, so the overlap between the two brand’s audiences isn’t really in conflict.