Known largely for its CÉLINE, Chloe, Chanel, The Row, Rosie Assoulin, and Jacquemus copies – just to name a few of the brands regularly targeted – LOÉIL is taking on “it” brand, Balenciaga. And this certainly is not an isolated incident. Despite LOÉIL's self-proclaimed “thoughtfully designed” collections and its “unique global brand,” the e-commerce site, which is headquartered in Los Angeles and maintains its “creative and production team” in Asia, is, in fact, little more than a copycat at best and an infringer – of a couple types – at worst.
In case the Balenciaga copy is not enough, LOÉIL’s ethos can be gauged quite clearly in its treatment of LVMH-owned brand, CÉLINE. From its logo to its accessories and even its declared “inspiration,” LOÉIL is making quite an open-and-shut case of trade dress infringement against itself for CÉLINE (and a number of other brands) should they chose to pursue legal action. (Note: Trade dress protection extends to the characteristics of the visual appearance of a design or shape/configuration of a product, such as the design of a shoe or a bag).
So, here’s what we know: LOÉIL, which has garnered quite a significant following – including bloggers, editors from Refinery 29, and individuals on Rachel Zoe’s team – and no shortage of press, is going to somewhat great lengths to emulate CÉLINE. To be fair, many brands are channeling creative director Phoebe Philo’s luxe, minimalist creations. LOÉIL, however, takes it several steps further than a case of inspiration. The brand appears to be working hard to confuse consumers into thinking it is in some way affiliated with CÉLINE. Consider its logo with the black and white color palette; its use of the same exact font as CÉLINE; the accent above the “E”; and the twist, which LVMH aficionados will have picked up on, the similarity between its name and CÉLINE’s fellow LVMH-owned brand, LOEWE. When viewed individually, these are little more than minor similarities. However, when taken together, they prove to be quite damning.
Do not forget the brand’s style names: Among the Anderson tops (think: J.W.), Rosie skirts (think: Assoulin), Row shirt dresses (á la The Row), and Jacque shirts (think: Jacquemus) are the Philo pants; Deep V slides, LOÉIL’s version of the CÉLINE V Neck flats; and Celina turtlenecks and Celina vests. Coincidental? Doubtful.
Couple this with the fact that LOÉIL is – and has been consistently since its inception – offering an array of line-for-line copies of CÉLINE garments and accessories. For instance, there are the copies of CÉLINE’s Essential Flat V Neck, Babouche V Neck Slipper, Leather Ballerines, and Soft Ballerina Pumps, among others.
And last but not least, there is the crystal clear “inspiration” that LOÉIL is taking from CÉLINE, as indicated, at least in part, by the CÉLINE-branded photos that were posted to the LOÉIL Instagram account – a move that would likely serve to confuse consumers as to the brands’ affiliation - and subsequently removed. The disappearance of the CÉLINE-branded photos (see one above) vmay have come about thanks to a strongly worded cease and desist from CÉLINE's legal counsel.
As for whether consumers could actually be confused – given the vast price difference between CÉLINE and LOÉIL (and it is vast) or Vetements and LOÉIL – there is an argument that they just might be. Shoppers may not be confused at the point of sale – they’re on the LOÉIL website, after all, not the CÉLINE one. But what about after the fact, when they see someone wearing the very CÉLINE-esque shoes on the street, thinking they are, in fact, CÉLINE. That is called post sale confusion and that is a very real threat for brands, particularly when the goods at issue are of poor quality, which LOÉIL’s almost certainly are.
With such infringements at play, how long will LOÉIL be up and running and selling such blatant line-for-line copies (some of which very well may be illegal)? It seems like their time may be limited. Stay tuned.