A year or so after Los Angeles-based sneaker brand, Buscemi, debuted its namesake sneaker, it has announced its impending collection of 18kt gold-plated designs. The original design was on our radar thanks to its adoption of Hermès-inspired accents (gold Hermès-like hardware and even the Birkin/Kelly handle), and we aren't the only to have noticed the similarity. A quick search results in the following, from an array of sites: "These sick kicks pay homage to the iconic Hermes Birkin handbag," "If you'd ever dreamed of a Hermes Birkin for your feet, here it is," and "The main highlight [of Buscemi's collection] is a pair of Birkin bag-inspired shoes." Even the New York Times commented on the similarity, writing: "Buscemi's handcrafted leather high-tops embellished with a strap and 18-karat gold lock system resemble an Hermès bag." The original pair carried a price tag of just under $800, and the shoes in the new collection, the yellow gold, silver and rose gold colorways, come in at just under $1300.
As we told you in the past, it seems that Hermès' legal team isn't looking to take down the Buscemi shoe. While it is worth noting that Buscemi has not mentioned the H-word (Hermès) in any of its marketing of the shoe or alluded to the brand or an association or endorsement between the two. Also noteworthy is the fact that Hermès does not have a monopoly over the handbag handle and lock and key hardware. But does not mean this isn't a trademark case in the marking? Not necessarily.
If the Paris-based design house could show that the average consumer is likely to confuse the source of the Buscemi shoe and think it is in some way affiliated Hermès, then it would have a trademark claim, and based on a bit of research, it may have a case. In addition to the articles commenting on the similarity between Hermès celebrated handbags and the Buscemi shoe I noted above, Details touched on an important aspect in an article from last year: "For several weeks photos of what everyone assumed to be an Hermes Birkin sneaker is finally here." Another site wrote: "A part of me still wonders about the possibility of Hermès actually partnering with Buscemi to create these." And herein lies two examples of confusion as to the source, as well as potential association (between Hermès and Buscemi) in connection with the shoe.
Chances are, Hermès knows all of this already and its failure to take action means it just doesn't see the Buscemi shoe as a big enough of a threat. Considering the limited supply of the sneakers and the relatively expensive price tags attached to them, it may be safe to say that Hermès simply isn't being harmed in any major way here. Thoughts?