The #GirlBoss Netflix series hits small screens on riday, chronicling the rise of e-commerce fast fashion retailer, Nasty Gal. The Los Angeles based brand, which swiftly catapulted to success after getting its start as an eBay-only vintage shop, has become well known – since its launch in 2008 – for its stocking of line-for-line knockoffs of runway designs and indie designers’ creations. Hardly shocking, this is the business model for fast fashion retailers. Nasty Gal has, however, taken it a bit too far from time to time (or somewhat regularly) in terms of the garments and accessories it stocks.
Just in time for the series debut, here is a handful of some of the brand’s most egregious copies, some of which could, in fact, be illegal …
1. BALMAIN V. NASTY GAL
Remember when the Nasty Gal took to its Instagram to share a photo of Taylor Swift on the 2015 Billboard Music Awards red carpet along with the caption: “One-piece wonder. Taylor Swift in the Nasty Gal Frisco Inferno Jumpsuit.” The problem: Swift was wearing Balmain, and not Nasty Gal’s egregious Balmain copy. So, either Nasty Gal’s social media editor saw a marketing opportunity to trick consumers and boost sales (our money is on the option) OR was legitimately confused due to the very blatant nature of Nasty Gal’s copy. Either way, Nasty Gal lost when the entire fashion internet caught on.
2. GIVENCHY V. NASTY GAL
Quite often we see fast fashion retailers selling copies of high fashion garments and accessories because design piracy is a perfectly legal practice in the United States (for the most part). However, one tactic that definitely runs afoul of the law is copying an original image that appears on another brand's wares and putting it on your own. Case in point: Nasty Gal's "Vicious tote."
Unlike plain old design piracy (for which there is very little protection available via copyright law), there is protection for pictorial, sculptural and graphic works under U.S. copyright law. Nasty Gal's blatant imitation of Givenchy's super-popular Rottweiler design is a perfect example.
3. ALTUZARRA V. NASTY GAL
On the heels of designer Joseph Altuzarra’s Spring/Summer 2015 show, Nasty Gal was obviously quite taken with the brand’s stand-out latticework pieces, which were woven into a collection of pink Gingham prints and asymmetric wrap dresses and skirts. So, Nasty Gal copied one of them.
5. ADIDAS V. NASTY GAL
Just before filing for bankruptcy, Nasty Gal began offering an interesting skirt, one that was a DEAD RINGER for an adidas skirt. A bold move, given adidas' penchant for litigation, the Nasty Gal skirt came down not long after we drew attention to it, suggesting Nasty Gal may have been on the receiving end of a trademark infringement cease and desist letter from the German sportswear giant.
6. DI$COUNT UNIVERSE V. NASTY GAL
Before Nasty Gal started stocking Di$count Universe, it copied Di$count Universe. In April 2013, the Los Angeles-based company (with the help of supplier, Reverse) began selling copies of the works of independent Australian label and fellow online retailer, Di$count Universe.
The garments at issue: Di$count's hand-sequined All Seeing Eye crop top vs. Reverse's Eye Candy crop top (stocked by Nasty Gal) AND Di$count's Bones skirt vs. Reverse's X Ray skirt (also stocked by Nasty Gal). And Nadia Napreychikov and Cami James, the founders of Di$count, were not pleased. They have taken to their Facebook and Instagram accounts slamming the retailer with some choice words.
7. GUCCI V. NASTY GAL
Nasty Gal joins the ranks of Mango and other fast fashion retails, which were all very happy to jump on the most recent bout of Gucci fever. While Nasty Gal (or its supplier) did not recreate an exact Gucci garment style here, it is pretty obvious what it is channeling: Gucci’s hot-selling red hydrangea print, which has made waves on the runway and off since its runway debut in 2015.
8. AQUZZAURA V. NASTY GAL
Nasty Gal’s copy of Aquazzura’s Wild Thing sandal is a particularly risky one. Given that Aquazzura has filed trade dress and design patent infringement lawsuits against Ivanka Trump and Steve Madden for copying and selling this exact style, Nasty Gal might be next.
9. MOSCHINO V. NASTY GAL
Nasty Gal took a page from Moschino’s book in 2015, copying its Biker bag, a clutch complete with snaps and zippers and the silhouette of a Perfecto jacket. (Yes, it is worth noting that Saint Laurent showed a motorcycle jacket-inspired bag last year, it's Riders Zip bag, a backpack complete with zippers and buckles, but missing the silhouette of a Perfecto).
10. ALEXANDER WANG V. NASTY GAL
For his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Alexander Wang sent a number of so-called sneaker dresses down the runway. Wang repurposed popular tennis shoe designs – like Nike’s Flynits – into womenswear. Case in point: the electric-colored bodycon dresses. From there Nasty Gal created its own blatant – yet arguably completely legal (in the U.S.) – copies.
11. CHRISTIAN DIOR V. NASTY GAL
Not just a copycat itself, Nasty Gal’s suppliers are well known copyists, too. Case in point: Steve Madden and its Dior 2014 runway shoe copies. Nasty Gal was “lucky” enough to land some exclusive colorways of these for its own site.
12. CELINE V. NASTY GAL
For Fall/Winter 2014, "Phoebe Philo sent models down the runway at Céline wearing a single large earring made from mixed metals and materials, including tassels, gemstones and antique-looking chains." Shortly thereafter, a rather identical-looking earring popped up for sale on Nasty Gal's website (just the latest in a line of Céline-like accessories the Los Angeles-based retailer has co-opted in the recent past).
13. HELLS ANGELS V. NASTY GAL
Unlike the previous examples, this one is a case of potential trademark infringement. On the heels of the Hells Angels filing a trademark infringement suit against Nasty Gal in 2011 for using its name in connection with garments, Nasty Gal was up to its old tricks in 2015, offering a camisole entitled, the "Hell's Angel Satin Cami." Given the parties history, the motorcycle gang was likely not too pleased with the brand's choice of style name.
14. KUCCIA V. NASTY GAL
In 2014, Nasty Gal began stocking a set of questionable garments: its Reverse Juicy Fruit Top and Skirt. The two pieces bear a print that is identical to one that UK-based brand, Kuccia, developed and began selling the year prior, exclusively through Topshop.
15. CHANEL V. NASTY GAL
For a while there, Nasty Gal was selling t-shirts with some awfully familiar logos on them. The most blatant: its Fancy Bones Tee. CHANEL got wind of the designs, and the company's legal department took action to protect the trademarked logo. A CHANEL spokesperson told The Fashion Law: "CHANEL is writing Nasty Gal a cease and desist letter to stop the infringing sales and we hope that they will comply so that this matter can be resolved without the need to file a lawsuit."