Designers Nicolas Ghesquière, Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, and others are the subjects of the latest bout of the so-called "parody" t-shirt craze. Label, Made in Hell-A, a Los Angeles-based brand (obviously), whose business is based almost entirely off of these catchy designer-name t-shirts, may be walking a thin line in terms of legality. While Alexander Wang is the only one in the group listed above that has trademarked his name, that doesn't mean the others don't have a cause of action.
You may recall that just last month, actress Scarlett Johansson (who's name is not a federally registered trademark) sued a French publisher for using her name in a book, seeking compensation and damages for the “breach and fraudulent use of personal rights,” as well as a ban on “future transfer of rights and adaptations of the book." This seems like it could be a good route for Ghesquière to take if he were to pursue a lawsuit (even though I think a cease and desist letter may do the trick here), as it would likely allow him to avoid proving "likelihood of confusion," as required by a trademark infringement lawsuit.
While Alexander Wang seems to have a pretty clear claim here, since he has a federally registered trademark in Class 25, which covers clothing, Ghesquière may also have a substantial claim, as well, under the same rationale as Johansson (mentioned above) or under a common law trademark claim. After all, he is one of the most famous names in fashion, and not to "be a Haider" but it seems that Made in Hell-A is profiting from the goodwill created by others, something trademark law doesn't approve of. [FYI - in addition to identifying the source of goods or services, trademarks also create a certain amount of goodwill, such as the prestige built up around a mark]. As for the others, I'm not sure the average person would connect Haider with Haider Ackermann or Dries with Dries Van Noten, which makes me think those two are probably perfectly legal. Thoughts?