The Hells Angels are ready to go up against with some of the biggest names in fashion in court. The biker gang has sued Alexander McQueen, along with Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos.com, for selling handbags, jewelry and clothing that it says bear its skull-and-wings “Death Head” design. The suit alleges that Saks and Zappos — without the motorcycle gang’s permission — have been selling Alexander McQueen items with names like the “Hells Angels Jacquard Box Dress” and the “Hells Four-finger Ring,” which retail for $1,565 and $495, respectively. “This isn’t just about money, it’s about membership,” said Hells Angels lawyer Fritz Clapp, a Los Angeles-based biker who sports a red mohawk. “If you’ve got one of these rings on, a member might get really upset that you’re an imposter.”
Gucci Group, the European luxury conglomerate that owns Alexander McQueen, couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday. Saks and Zappos declined to comment. The Hells Angels name and Death Head symbol “evoke strong and immediate reactions whenever used . . . and as a result they have great commercial value,” according to the suit. In addition to unspecified damages, the suit seeks the recall and “supervised destruction” of the offending merchandise.
While the use of the Hells Angels name is “clearly problematic,” it’s not clear whether Alexander McQueen is infringing a trademark in every case, said Steven Gursky, a partner at the law firm Olshan Grundman. The edgy fashion label — whose namesake designer died in February — has cranked out clothing and handbags bearing skull-and-wing designs. But “the world is full of skulls,” and the devil will be in the details, Gursky said. The Hells Angels have successfully sued Disney and Marvel comics in recent years.