Here's a disclaimer: I don't wear Jeremy Scott for Moschino. You won't catch me wearing a Spongebob dress or carrying a Barbie mirror i-Phone case anytime soon. These designs are a bit too much for me personally, but having said this, I am not immune to the fashion force otherwise known as Jeremy Scott. He knows how to make a statement and he knows just how to please his audience. He has a way for elevating "junk culture," as Style.com put it, and he has an undeniable knack for humor (of his Pre-Fall 2014 collection, Vogue wrote: "Isn’t it so nice to laugh, even at fashion from time to time?"). He manages to identify and comment on relevant current events/phenomena through his collections, which is valuable, in my opinion. Lastly, he can take ordinary things (think: McDonald's logos and motorcycle jackets) and produce completely novel things. For these reasons, Scott has a firm hold on his place in fashion.
More about the latter point: Scott's ability to create new things is impressive. Much of what we see in fashion has already been done, so much so that many argue that nothing in fashion is really new anymore. I think that to some extent Scott defies this logic. Take, for instance, the motorcycle jacket-turned-clutch that Scott showed as part of Moschino's Pre-Fall 2014 collection. Mixed amongst an array of Chanel-inspired wares (think: tweed suits, quilted purses and chain-link accents), Scott pushed the boundaries with some interesting accessories, one of which was the 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).
Given the widespread copying of wares from Scott's eponymous label and of his designs for Moschino, we could likely all see this coming from a mile away. I expected a line-for-line recreation of the Bike bag from the sellers on Alibaba, a platform known for offering just about every knockoff known to man. And honestly, I should have expected this from Nasty Gal, too, but given the brand's relatively recent push towards maybe being more than a cheap home for copies (think: opening a brick and mortar store, authoring a book about how to make it in business, launching its own house line, and even starting a mentoring initiative of sorts), I thought maybe, just maybe, this type of blatant design piracy was largely a thing of the past for the Los Angeles-based retailer. But I was wrong, as indicated by Nasty Gal's Go Moto Crossbody Bag. I was so wrong.
The difference in this case, as opposed to many of the others that have preceded it, and the reason it warrants some attention is that there may actually be grounds for litigation here. As you know by now, the majority of garments and accessories fall outside of the realm of protection afforded by American law (either because they don't meet the separability standard as required by copyright law or it doesn't make sense for their creators to apply for patent protection, which can be costly and time-consuming). As a result, these garments and accessories may be copied legally (for the most part). However, that is probably not the case here. Like the Balenciaga lego shoes or the Alexander McQueen Faithful booties, both of which were copied and gave rise to trade dress infringement litigation, if the mood strikes the Moschino legal team, they very well may have a completely merited trade dress infringement lawsuit against Nasty Gal here. In my opinion, this copy is just too flagrant to go unmentioned and frankly, unlitigated.
The reality here, though, is this: This is a lawsuit that will likely never happen, if for no other reason than it may just clash with the underlying ethos of the Moschino brand, which is to reinterpret the designs of others (think: Scott's reinterpretation of the classic Chanel bags for more than one season now). I would, however, argue quite strongly that there is very little, if any, reinterpretation going on here. This is just copying. A Moschino v. Nasty Gal lawsuit also may not happen because Moschino does not appear to have federally registered trade dress protection extending to the bag at issue. That's not a deal breaker, though, as Moschino could sue for common law trade dress infringement. It would just make it a bit more difficult.
But maybe the lesson here is not legal. There is a chance that it extends past Moschino and its ability to sue and whether or not it will choose to do so, and falls more centrally on Nasty Gal. Maybe this is the push we (and by "we" I mean "you" -- "you" the consumer and "you" the many fashion websites that continue to write about Nasty Gal in a non-condemning light) need in order to begin to see Nasty Gal (and companies just like it) for what it is (a company that sells copies of other brands' designs) and finally stop praising it for being anything more than that.