On the heels of an array of fashion and retail bankruptcy filings that began to unfold over the course of the year in 2016, New York-based designer Bibhu Mohapatra and retailers The Limited, Wet Seal, and Payless all made headlines when they filed for Chapter 11 protection in early 2017. They were swiftly followed by a handful of additional filings by other retailers, signaling that there is no end in sight to the constant string of fashion and other retail companies struggling financially and looking to bankruptcies courts for protection from their creditors.

For the uninitiated, Chapter 11 bankruptcy – one of the most commonly utilized forms of bankruptcy – allows a company to continue operating while it executes a reorganization plan. Chapter 11 can take a number of forms, but in short: A chapter 11 case begins with the filing of a petition with the bankruptcy court by the debtor (the entity that owes the debt – aka the retailers in the cases at hand). This is followed by the debtor proposing and executing a reorganization plan, which may be used to compromise or even eliminate certain classes of debt.

All the while, the debtor usually remains in possession of his assets and continues to operate any business, subject to the oversight of the court and the creditors committee. Typically, a company that has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy trying to stay in business, and as indicated below, this complex proceeding can be very effective in solving short term business problems in an otherwise viable company or winding down a company with valuable assets. (Also included below are instances in which brands have entered into administration, an insolvency process in the United Kingdom by which a company is “placed under the control of an insolvency practitioner to enable the insolvency practitioner to achieve objectives laid down by statute.”)

Fashion and Retail-Related Bankruptcies

Here is a look at some of the most recent fashion-related bankruptcy filings, as well as some significant ones dating back a bit further …

January 2023 – Forma Brands LLC

Morphe beauty’s owner Forma Brands LLC filed for bankruptcy in Delaware after reaching a deal with lenders, including Jefferies and Cerberus Capital Management. In a statement on January 12, Forma revealed that it has entered into “a definitive asset purchase agreement” with lenders Jefferies Finance LLC (together with Jefferies Finance LLC, funds managed by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. and FB Intermediate Holdings, LLC) under which “substantially all of FORMA Brands’ assets will be acquired.” Forma also announced that it has “received a commitment for approximately $33 million in debtor-in-possession financing from the Investor Group, which, subject to court approval, will be available to support the business and its operations throughout the court-supervised sale process.” The investor group will gain control of FORMA Brands’ “wholesale operations, online platforms, and international Morphe retail stores.”

“This agreement is a testament to the strength of our brands most meaningful to our consumers,” Forma president Simon Cowell said in the statement. “We will have additional financial resources available to invest in our multi-category portfolio, product launches and innovative brand and marketing strategy as we advance our vision to inspire creativity, promote inclusivity and connect with consumers around the world through beauty.”

Forma’s Chapter 11 filing comes after the company – whose Morphe brand previously surged in popularity thanks to partnerships with some of YouTube’s biggest beauty influencers, banking a reported $400 million dollars in revenue in 2019 – announced on January 6 that it would shutter all its U.S. stores.


December 2022 – M & Co.

M&Co Trading Ltd., a retail chain in the United Kingdom, has gone into administration, citing “higher costs and waning consumer appetite.” As reported by Bloomberg, “The retailer appointed Teneo to oversee the administration, seeking a possible sale of the business while M&Co’s 170 stores and website continue to operate, according to a statement. Around 1,900 staff are at risk of redundancy.”

August 2022 – Secoo

Secoo has filed for bankruptcy for a second time in under a year, with the Chinese e-commerce luxury goods retailer’s corporate entity Beijing Siku Shangmao Co. lodging a bankruptcy petition with the First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing Municipality on August 12, according to public records database Tianyancha, after withdrawing an earlier petition. In addition to over-investing in live-streaming and a blockchain-empowered authentication service, analysts state that Secoo has also been dragged down by a fall in demand for luxury goods in China, where national retail sales were up just 3.1 percent year-over-year in June.

Founded in 2008 by Chinese entrepreneur Richard Li Rixue, Secoo grew from a resale player to become China’s largest luxury goods retailer, with a 2017 initial public offering on Nasdaq raising $140 million, per SCMP, which notes that in December 2021, the company received a delisting warning from Nasdaq after its closing bid price for 30 consecutive business days fell below $1 per share, the exchange’s minimum bid price requirement. Secoo was recently granted a second grace period, which lasts until December 12, 2022, to comply with the minimum bid price requirement. According to its 2021 annual report, Secoo recorded a 48 percent year-over-year drop in revenue and a net loss of $88.8 million.

June 2022 – Revlon

Revlon filed for Chapter 11 protection in with a New York bankruptcy court on June 15. President and CEO Debra Perelman stated that despite enduring demand for its products, a “challenging capital structure has limited our ability to navigate macro-economic issues in order to meet this demand.” The New York-headquartered cosmetics giant – which owns the marquee Revlon brand, along with Elizabeth Arden, Almay, and licenses for Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Juicy Couture, and Christina Aguilera, among others – “expects to receive $575 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its existing lender base, which will help to support its day-to-day operations,” per CNBC. Perelman noted that bankruptcy protection will “allow Revlon to offer our consumers the iconic products we have delivered for decades, while providing a clearer path for our future growth.”

May 2022 – Missguided

Missguided has entered into administration, citing the “extremely challenging” retail environment. Teneo Financial Advisory has been appointed as joint administrator along with the British fast fashion brand. According to Reuters, Missguided will continue to operate as usual while they seem a buyer for the business. “The joint administrators will now seek to conclude a sale of the business and assets, for which there continues to be a high level of interest from a number of strategic buyers,” Teneo managing director Gavin Maher said on Monday.

UPDATE (June 1, 2022): British fashion group Frasers has agreed to acquire Missguided, confirming that it will pay 20 million pounds ($25.2 million) for Missguided’s intellectual property.


November 2021 – Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret has entered into administration, roughly a month after the high fashion brand filed a notice of its intent to appoint administrators after the pandemic destroyed demand for his business. The London-based brand, which is in the business of making high-end formalwear and which counts fans that range from Demi Moore to the Duchess of Cambridge, revealed this fall that its sales dropped by 80 percent in the midst of the pandemic.

August 2021 – Sequential Brands Group

Sequential Brands Group, Inc. announced on August 31 that together with its wholly-owned subsidiaries, it has commenced voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company, which owns Joe’s Jeans and Jessica Simpson’s eponymous label, says it “determined that, as a result of the significant debt on its corporate balance sheet, it was no longer able to operate its portfolio of brands.” The company did not reveal the site of its assets and liabilities, but they have both been estimated to be about $500 million.

The company has revealed that it plans to hold an auction as part of a deal with its lenders, with “two initial bidders offering $375 million for many of the company’s assets,” per Bloomberg, and Jessica Simpson, herself, expected to try to buy back her brand.

July 2021 – Global Brands Group

GBG USA, Inc. filed a Chapter 11 petition on July 29, 2021 in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company – which sells branded fashion accessories, footwear, and apparel under owned and licensed brands, including Fiorelli, Sean John (in connection with which BGB is being sued by rapper-slash-apparel mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs), AllSaints, Navigare, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dimensione Danza, Skechers, Lego, Disney, Star Wars, and Mattel – estimates that it has between $1 billion and $10 billion in both assets and liabilities. 

June 2021 – Alex and Ani

Alex and Ani filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on June 9, citing assets and liabilities that both range from $100 million to $500 million. The Rhode Island-based jewelry company, which was founded in 2004, counts mall titans Simon Property Group Inc and Brookfield Property Partners LP as among its largest unsecured creditors, with “each being owed more than $3 million in rent payments,” per Reuters.

April 2021 – Collected Group

Collected Group, which owns the Joie, Current/Elliott and Equipment brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 5 in a Delaware Bankruptcy Court, in order “to cement a rescue plan backed by the private-equity firm that controls it, KKR & Co,” the Wall Street Journal reported, after attempts to find a buyer for the brands “stalled in the spring of 2020.” Together, KKR and fellow secured lender Callodine Commercial Finance LLC are owed upwards of $185 million, while “landlords and other unsecured creditors are owed an estimated $35.5 million.”

March 2021 – Ralph & Russo

London-based high fashion brand Ralph & Russo announced that it has entered into administration. In a statement on March 17, the brand asserted that “the decision to appoint administrators has been taken by the Board in order to assist in the restructuring of the business after the retail economy across the world has been badly hit by the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is to restructure the company to ensure its ongoing success.” The 11-year old company further stated that “Paul Appleton of Begbies Traynor Group plc and Andrew Andronikou of Quantuma Advisory Limited have been appointed as Joint Administrators and will now investigate all possible options to secure the future of this globally celebrated brand for the benefit of all Stakeholders.”

February 2021 – Belk Inc.

Belk Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on February 23. The Sycamore Partners-owned department store chain filed for Chapter 11 protection in furtherance of a speedy “restructuring strategy that creditors have already voted unanimously to support,” the WSJ reported. If approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, the Journal notes that the company’s Chapter 11 proposal, which was announced last month, will “trim $450 million in debt from the company’s balance sheet and provide a $225 million capital infusion, supplied by Belk lenders and its private-equity owner Sycamore.”

February 2021 – Solstice Marketing Concepts

Sunglasses chain Solstice Marketing Concepts LLC filed for bankruptcy on February 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, saying that it “plans to reorganize and will seek financing upon the court’s approval to keep funding its ongoing operations,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The second-largest retailer of sunglasses in the U.S., Solstice revealed that its brick-and-mortar stores took a significant hit amid COVID-19, with sales in 2020 down by 50 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“We are optimistic about reorganization as we continue to see increasing business in our stores as COVID restrictions are lifted and in the new fashions that our vendors are providing. We are now dedicating ourselves to the necessary changes to our business and the restructure of our obligations for the benefit of our employees, critical suppliers and other stakeholders,” Solstice’s CEO Mikey Rosenberg said in a statement.

January 2021 – L’Occitane, Inc.

The American arm of French beauty products company L’Occitane filed for bankruptcy in Delaware Bankruptcy Court on January 26, with the company’s regional managing director Yann Tanini stating that COVID has caused the company to “more aggressively address the rapidly widening gulf between its brick-and-mortar retail revenue and its substantial lease obligations, which no longer reflect the market.” As reported by the WSJ, the company’s U.S. subsidiary is “behind on $15 million in rent and seeking to shed lease obligations after the Covid-19 pandemic cut into sales.”


December 2020 – Francesca’s

Francesca’s voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on December 3. The women’s fashion chain revealed plans to sell the business, including its brick-and-mortar stores, although it stated that it still plans close about 140 of its 700 stores, as previously announced in September. According to USA Today, “The company said it was obtaining $25 million in financing from its existing lender, Tiger Finance, to facilitate the sales process, subject to court approval,” which will allow the company to address lease obligations and “seek a new investor that can see Francesca’s into the future.” 

The company says it has lined up a “stalking horse” bid, and has a letter of intent from TerraMar Capital LLC, an investment firm that provides debt and equity capital to middle-market businesses.

November 2020 – Arcadia Group

Arcadia Group went into administration on November 30, the British equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The retail group, which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, among other brands, said that the pandemic has “severely impacted” sales across its brands, most of which maintain expansive real estate footprints. At the same time, the AP noted on Monday that competition faced by the 18-year-old, London-headquartered group has increased in the form of “low-cost rivals like Primark, as well as from online disrupters such as ASOS and Boohoo,” and that 68-year-old chairman Phillip Green has “not invested enough in the businesses to get them in shape to deal with the new competition in retail.”

“We will now work with the existing management team and broader stakeholders to assess all options available for the future of the group’s businesses,” Matt Smith, joint administrator at Deloitte, said in a statement.

November 2020 – Furla USA

Furla SpA has filed for bankruptcy “due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its brick-and-mortar and wholesale businesses,” the Wall Street Journal reported. The American arm of the Italian company filed for chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on November 6, “planning to use the process to get rid of leases and debt, while focusing on a reorganization strategy of investing in e-commerce and wholesale.” Furla’s “goods are luxury products, they generally are seen as discretionary purchases, and consumer discretionary purchases have decreased due to sudden economic decline post-Covid-19,” Elena Moncigoli, CEO of Furla USA, said in a court declaration.

September 2020 – Century 21

Discount retailer Century 21 filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, “blaming the bankruptcy filing on its insurance providers’ decision to not pay about $175 million it said it should have received under policies to protect against business disruptions amid the coronavirus pandemic,” per the WSJ. The New York-based company revealed that it will close all of its 13 brick-and-mortar stores and will liquidate its assets.

“While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time,” the retailer’s co-CEO, Raymond Gindi, said in a statement on September 10.

August 2020 – Stein Mart

Off-price retailer Stein Mart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a bankruptcy court in Jacksonville, Florida on August 12. The 100-year old Jacksonville, Florida-based retailer cited $197.8 million in debt as of the end of the first quarter ended May 2, per Reuters, while posting a loss of $65.7 million in the quarter, and revenue that had dropped by more than 50 percent. The company says that it plans to close most or all its 280 stores, and is evaluating strategic alternatives, including the potential sale of its e-commerce business and related intellectual property.

In a statement, Stein Mart CEO Hunt Hawkins said, “The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business.”

August 2020 – Lord & Taylor, Le Tote

Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest departments stores in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection in the Eastern Court of Virginia on August 2. The nearly 200-year old department store chain’s owner, fashion rental start-up Le Tote Inc., filed for Chapter 11, as well. Le Tote acquired Lord & Taylor from Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co. for $71 million last year, “taking over its 38 locations and hoping to propel the venerable department store toward new, younger shoppers,” per NPR. Le Tote revealed in a court filing that its companies reported revenue of about $253.5 million in 2019.

August 2020 – Tailored Brands

Tailored Brands filed for Chapter 11 on August 2 in the Southern District of Texas. The company said it will continue to operate Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks stores, along with K&G Fashion Superstore and Moores Clothing for Men, during the reorganization. It said in a release that a restructuring plan is expected to reduce the company’s funded debt by at least $630 million and provide increased financial flexibility.

July 2020 – Ascena Retail Group

Ascent Retail Group, which owns the Ann Taylor, Justice, Lou & Grey and Lane Bryant fashion brands, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, stating that it will permanently close nearly all of its Justice stores, as well a number of Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey outposts. In furtherance of a restructuring support agreement, the group said in a statement that it expects to “significantly reduce [its] debt by approximately $1 billion and provide increased financial flexibility to enable the Company to continue its focus on generating profitable growth and driving value for customers and stakeholders.”

Reflecting on the bankruptcy filing, CNBC reports that “with thousands of bricks-and-mortar stores, at its heyday, Ascena was once the biggest clothing retailer for women in the country, having amassed a portfolio of well-known brands for various sizes and age groups. But changing tastes in fashion and new platforms such as Rent the Runway and Stitch Fix have taken a toll on its business over the years. Already in a slump, the Covid-19 crisis pushed it over the edge.”

July 2020 – RTW Retailwinds

New York & Co. owner RTW Retailwindb announced on July 13 that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to permanently close most, if not all, of its 400 domestic brick-and-mortar outposts. As reported by CNBC, the company said that it is “evaluating potentially selling its e-commerce operations and related intellectual property in bankruptcy proceedings.”

“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business, and we expect it to continue to do so in the future,” RTW Retailwinds CEO and CFO Sheamus Toal said in a statement. 

July 2020 – Brooks Brothers

202-year old retailer Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court on July 8. The staple American company, which is owned by Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, “was facing challenges before the health crisis forced nonessential retailers to temporarily close their stores.,” according to the Wall Street Journal, as “U.S. corporations had turned increasingly casual, and fewer men were buying suits,” which was heightened “once people started sheltering at home, they turned to even more casual attire such as sweatpants.”

In addition to being burdened by rent payments for its 250 North America stores, the COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on the brand’s existing search for a buyer, a process that began in 2019.

July 2020 – G Star Raw

On the heels of entering into voluntary administration in Australia in May, fashion brand G-Star Raw has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. According to Sourcing Journal, the Los Angeles-based retail company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, citing financial woes from the coronavirus crisis.

July 2020 – Lucky Brand Dungarees

Denim-maker Lucky Brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with the brand revealing that it has entered into “a stalking horse asset purchase agreement with [Authentic Brands Group’s] SPARC Group LLC,” the operator of Aéropostale and Nautica, according to a release on July 3. “To facilitate the sale and reduce its debt burden caused by recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Lucky Brand has initiated proceedings under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the District of Delaware.”

Lucky Brand CEO and Matthew A. Kaness said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted sales across all channels. While we are optimistic about the reopening of stores and our customers’ return, the business has yet to recover fully. We have made many difficult decisions to preserve the Company’s viability during these unprecedented times. After considering all options, the Board has determined that a Chapter 11 filing is the best course of action to optimize the operations and secure the brand’s long-term success.”

May 2020 – DVF Studio U.K.

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s British business has entered into administration (the British equivalent to U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings), citing mounting losses and “substantial doubt” as to the status of its subsidiary. While the American operations of the nearly 50-year old fashion brand remain in tact, finance director Andrew Stoke told the Sunday Times that DVF was “resetting its business model” in the United Kingdom as a result of the pandemic.

May 2020 – Lulu Guinness

British fashion and accessories brand filed for bankruptcy in England, according to WWD, the 31-year old, London-based brand was expected to receive a year’s worth of funding, but when the COVID-19 virus hit, the funding fell through, prompting the company to seek bankruptcy protection. Almost immediately after the filing, “a group of existing shareholders, including Guinness, herself, repurchased the assets with plans to push ahead.”

“We were in a great place before COVID hit, a much leaner and more efficient company,” chairman James McArthur said of the brand, which generated $12.22 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, with losses of more than $632,000. “But without that funding, we couldn’t move forward. Now, we’re ready to power forward.”

May 2020 – J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney Co. filed for bankruptcy protection on May 15, revealing plans to permanently close some stores and explore a potential sale. According to Reuters, the 107-year old U.S. department store chain, which is “known for selling family apparel, cosmetics and jewelry at some 850 locations across the U.S., said it reached an agreement with existing lenders for $900 million of debtor-in-possession financing to aid operations while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court in Corpus Christi, Texas.” The retailer, which revealed in its filing that it has approximately $500 million in cash on hand, said it has commitments for $900 million in financing from its existing first lien lenders to fund bankruptcy.

The company’s CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement in connection with the filing, “The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our families, our loved ones, our communities, and our country. As a result, the American retail industry has experienced a profoundly different new reality, requiring JCPenney to make difficult decisions in running our business to protect the safety of our associates and customers and the future of our company.”

May 2020 – Neiman Marcus Group

On the heels of reports that a filing was coming, Neiman Marcus Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 7. Neiman Marcus Group was pin-pointed as likely to resort to Chapter 11 protection given that “the debt-laden Dallas-based company has been left with few options after the pandemic forced it to temporarily shut all 43 of its Neiman Marcus locations, roughly two dozen Last Call stores and its two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York,” according to CNBC.

In connection with Thursday’s filing in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, Texas, Neiman Marcus says that it is aiming to eliminate $4 billion of its more-than-$5 billion in debt. The retailer revealed that it has obtained support from “a significant majority of its creditors to undergo a financial restructuring, substantially reducing its debt load and interest payments and supporting continued operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

May 2020 – ALDO Group

Canadian footwear and accessory retailer ALDO Group Inc. said on May 7 that it has filed for protection from creditors in Canada and the U.S. with plans to restructure and stabilize its business. The Montreal-based company said it filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which the Wall Street Journal likens to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s Chapter 11 (although Aldo claims it is more akin to Chapter 15), and that it has voluntarily applied for similar protection in the U.S. and is about to do so in Switzerland. The company says it “will work to complete its restructuring in a timely fashion and hopes to exit from the process as soon as possible and better positioned for long term growth.”

CEO David Bensadoun said: “ALDO is one of the world’s leading fashion footwear and accessory brands with a solid track record of growth and profitability for almost half a century. It is no secret that the retail industry has experienced rapid and significant change over the last several years. We were making strong progress with the transformation of our business to tackle these challenges; however, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has put too much pressure on our business and our cash flows. After conducting an exhaustive review of strategic alternatives, we determined that filing is in ALDO’s best interest to preserve the Company for the long term and survive through this challenging period.”

May 2020 – John Varvatos

New York-headquartered fashion company John Varvatos announced on May 6 that it has reached agreements with an affiliate of Lion Capital LLP, an existing investor, under which the company will sell its business to Lion “in order to ensure the business’s long-term success.” To facilitate this transaction, John Varvatos Enterprises and certain of its affiliates filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The brand, which lists assets of as much as $50 million and liabilities of at least $100 million, stated that the sale to the Lion Capital affiliate “will be subject to approval of the bankruptcy court and may include a court-supervised auction in which other bidders may offer a higher price for the company’s assets.” However, “Lion remains confident in the long-term potential of the company’s business to be operated as a going concern in the future and has additionally committed to provide, subject to court approval, debtor-in-possession financing, which, when combined with the company’s projected cash flows, is expected to support its operations during the restructuring process.”

May 2020 – J.Hilburn

Custom menswear brand J.Hilburn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, listing assets of less than $10 million, and liabilities that top $10 million, with more than half of that debt due to its suppliers.  The 13-year old company, which was founded by former equity research analyst Hil Davis and M&A analyst Veeral Rathod, attracted venture investment, as much as $13.8 million in 2012, after raising $12.25 million in rounds between 2008 and 2011, the majority of which came from Boston-based Battery Ventures.

In a statement this week, the company’s CEO David DeFeo said, “J.Hilburn has a loyal client base. We believe in our stylists, in the growth potential of the men’s custom market, and in the ability of our management team to lead the company to future success.” 

May 2020 – J. Crew

On the heels of reports that J. Crew would be one of the first major retail bankruptcies of the COVID-19 crisis, the New York-headquartered apparel company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a bankruptcy court in the Eastern District of Virginia. The company cited assets and liabilities at between $1 billion and $10 billion, and revealed that it had reached a deal with its lenders to convert about $1.65 billion of debt into equity. “We will continue all day-to-day operations,” according to J.Crew Group CEO Jan Singer.

NOW: As of September 10, 2020, J. Crew had emerged from bankruptcy. Per MarketWatch, “J.Crew has swapped $1.6 billion in debt with Anchorage Capital Group LLC, which is now the majority owner of the company. J.Crew has a $400 million exit term loan from Anchorage, GSO Capital Partners LP and others due 2027, and a $400 million asset-based lending credit facility due 2025 from Bank of America NA. Ahead of the bankruptcy filing, J.Crew had filed to take the Madewell brand public.”

April 2020 – True Religion (Round 2)

After filing to Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in July 2017, listing assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million, True Religion filed for a second time this month, citing the same level of assets and debts in its April 13 court filing, and asserting that although it wanted to wait out the COVID-19 crisis, it  “simply could not afford to do so.” In the near term, and “until our stores open up, we will be continuing as we have, to run our e-commerce businesses, in the same way we did prior to filing for Chapter 11,” CEO Michael Buckley said in a statement. 

The California-based denim-maker, which saw its heyday in the mid-to-late 2000s, exited from bankruptcy in 2017 “in a matter of four months, after shedding over $350 million in debt, closing stores and investing in e-commerce,” per Forbes, which noted that the company’s jeans “have fallen out of favor in recent years amidst increased competition from lower-cost brands like Levi Strauss and Madewell, as well as a boom in athleisure.” 


September 2019 – Forever 21

After months of growing speculation, fast fashion brand Forever 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 29. The 35-year old retailer – which helped pioneer the early wave of fast fashion, bringing trendy, runway-inspired garments and accessories to consumers for cheap – said “the restructuring will allow it to focus on the profitable core part of its operations,” while closing to 178 of its 800 existing outposts, including some across the U.S. and most of its stores in Asia and Europe.

August 2019 – Barneys New York

In light of increasing speculation, upscale department store Barneys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 6 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, “and put itself up for sale after facing soaring rents and failing in its earlier attempts to find a buyer for the cash-strapped retailer,” per Reuters. The New York-headquartered fashion department store “secured $75 million in new financing from affiliates of Hilco Global and the Gordon Brothers Group to help it keep operating as it navigates the bankruptcy court,” but says it will shutter 15 of its current locations, including those in Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle, “along with five smaller concept stores and seven Barneys Warehouse locations.” Barneys listed assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million.

According to CNBC, This is “the second time that Barneys has landed in bankruptcy court. Its first filing came in 1996, after a squabble with its Japanese owner, department store company Isetan. The filing was in part a move to renegotiate its deal with Isetan, as well as cope with what it viewed as excessive rent.”

July 2019 – Sonia Rykiel

Sonia Rykiel has been forced into liquidation, following a decision from a Paris commercial court. Despite a string of extended deadlines during which time the court received bids for the fashion brand, whose eponymous founder died in 2017, came up short after entering into receivership – the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. – this spring. In April, First Heritage Brands, Sonia Rykiel’s parent company, sought court protection against creditors during its search for new ownership, which ultimately never came into fruition.

Without a buyer, as the court rejected a single unnamed bidder, and following a layoffs and store closures earlier this year, including in the U.S., the brand will now liquidate its existing operations entirely.

April 2019 – Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in a New York court to protect the fashion brand from more than 200 outstanding creditors as it liquidates its U.S. arm. According to its filing, which is dated April 4, 2019, Cavalli states, “Due to severe liquidity constraints, the company is unable to pay its debts, including ordinary operating expenses, as they come due.” The American arm of the Italian design house closed all U.S. stores and is preparing to liquidate its North American operations, while its European activities are slated to continue as usual.

NOW: An Italian court court approved the sale of troubled Italian group Roberto Cavalli to real estate developer Damac in July 2019. Dubai-based Damac has acquired 100 percent of Roberto Cavalli SpA. for an undisclosed amount.

March 2019 – Pretty Green

Pretty Green, the fashion retailer founded by the former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, has been placed into administration. According to the Guardian, reps for the brand say they hope to find a buyer to save the business, which was founded by Gallagher in 2009. Pretty Green, which has 12 standalone stores, 40 concessions and a wholesale business, ” will continue trading until further notice.”

March 2019 – Diesel

The American arm of Italian fashion brand Diesel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors. Its privately-held Breganze-based parent company, which was founded by Adriano Goldschmied and Renzo Rosso in 1978, is not part of the filing. Diesel USA’s Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Samson told Reuters that “Diesel USA has no plans to close, but intends to exit some of its 28 stores.” Moreover, he said the company’s three-year business plan contemplates focusing on more profitable stores, improving its product lines and working with social media “influencers” to attract Millennials, “Generation Z” and other new customers.

February 2019 – Payless, Inc. (Round 2)

After first filing for bankruptcy in April 2017, Payless filed for Chapter 11 protection again, and revealed that it would shutter its domestic business. “Payless had too much debt, too many stores, and too much corporate overhead when it emerged from the earlier bankruptcy,” according to Stephen Marotta, who was named as the company’s chief restructuring officer to prepare for the bankruptcy, according to CNN.

NOW: All of Payless’ stores in the U.S. and Canada and its e-commerce site were closed by June 2019. Its nearly 800 stores outside of the U.S., including in Latin America, remain in operation.

February 2019 – Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the weekend and revealed plans to close almost 100 stores in malls across the country. The teenage-focused apparel company, which was founded in 1975 in San Diego, California, said it will use the bankruptcy proceedings to sell its certain assets and that it’s received a commitment of $50 million in financing, according to a press release Monday.


November 2018 – David’s Bridal

David’s Bridal Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcyin U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, citing $500 million in debut, compared to its $100 million-plus in assets. According to Bloomberg, “The court-supervised restructuring allows the business to keep operating, and thus avoid the calamitous and sometimes tearful impact on brides that often accompanies the collapse of wedding retailers.”

NOW: As of mid-January 2019, the bridal retailer announced that it had emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is poised for long-term growth. The Pennsylvania-based company confirmed that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring without closing any of its 300 stores. According to Chron.com, “The company said it planned to lure back customers by offering more affordable dresses in a wider assortment of sizes, both in-store and online. The retailer also said it would host special events with top wedding experts at its stores nationwide to help brides plan their weddings.”

June 2018 – J. Mendel

New York-based brand J.Mendel, which has been in and out of court over the past year battling over outstanding bills, filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. bankruptcy court in New York. “Restructuring the company’s debts will allow J.Mendel to face the current challenging luxury retail environment, and I am confident that this will allow the company to move forward with renewed financial stability, allowing us to focus on crafting the best designs for our devoted clientele,” said John Georgiades of Stallion Inc., J.Mendel’s controlling investor.

May 2018 – Carven

Carven and its parent company, Société Béranger, have filed a voluntary petition with the Commercial Court in Paris in a preceding that mirrors Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in order to remain in business, while the fashion brand reorganizes and establishes a plan to pay off its creditors. As a result of its filing in French court, Carven has been “put into receivership,” a legal proceeding in which companies are placed into the responsibility of a legally-appointed individual, who acts as custodian of its assets and/or business operations. Carven is looking for a buyer.

May 2018 – Rockport Group

Footwear group Rockport has filed for Chapter 11 protection. Newton, Massachusetts-based Rockport Group will sell its assets to private equity group Charlesbank under a bankruptcy plan as the shoemaker struggles to compete in a tougher retail market. With brands that include Aravon, Dunham and Rockport, the group says it will maintain operations through the sale process to stalking horse bidder Charlesbank. Rockport was founded in 1971 as The Rockport Co. and eventually became part of Adidas before being sold again.

April 2018 – Nine West

U.S. footwear and apparel company Nine West Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy and said it will sell its Nine West and Bandolino footwear and handbag business to Authentic Brands Group. Nine West, which owns brands such as Anne Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt, said it had received $300 million in debtor-in-possession financing and had entered a restructuring agreement.

Update (June 11, 2018): Authentic Brands Group LLC, which owns Juicy Couture, Judith Leiber, Herve Leger, and Nautical, among other brands, has reportedly won the auction for the intellectual property of bankrupt U.S. shoe and accessories company Nine West Holdings Inc with a revised bid of about $350 million.

March 2018 – Claire’s Stores

Claire’s Stores Inc. filed its long-awaited Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy court protection. The classic mall store, which says it has pierced more than 100 million ears around the world, reached a restructuring agreement with its creditors. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Monday, Claire’s said it will reduce its debt by $1.9 billion. It held $2.1 billion in debt at the end of 2017.

February 2018 – Charlotte Olympia

Accessories brand Charlotte Olympia has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware bankruptcy court. Founded in 2007 by Charlotte Olympia Dellal, the brand has “an estimated the value of their assets at $3.26 million, dwarfed by liabilities of $19.2 million,” per Footwear News. In a declaration filed with the courts, chief restructuring officer William Kaye said Charlotte Olympia’s U.S. outposts — consisting of four locations in New York, California, and Nevada — had historically been unprofitable. Through bankruptcy, the brand plans to liquidate inventory and close all stores.


December 2017 – Charming Charlie

Fashion jewelry chain Charming Charlie filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and entered into a restructuring agreement with lenders and equity sponsors. The retailer said it had secured $20 million in debtor-in-possession financing from a majority of its existing term loan lenders and entered into a $35 million asset backed loan with current lenders.

November 2017 – Styles for Less

Styles for Less filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, hoping to avoid the rapidly expanding graveyard of mall retailers as the internet wreaks havoc. The company, known to many of its fans as Styles, filed for court protection from its creditors in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Central District of California. Anaheim, Calif.-based Styles cited a range of $10 million to $50 million in assets and the same range of liabilities.

September 2017 – Aerosoles

Women’s shoe retailer Aerosoles Group has confirmed that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing assets of $10 million to $50 million and liabilities of $100 million to $500 million. Aerosoles’ holding company AGI HoldCo Inc said it would continue to manage its stores and operate its businesses as “debtors in possession” and will significantly reduce the number of stores as part of the restructuring in an effort to realign the business with the changing marketplace environment.

August 2017 – Perfumania

Mall-based retailer chain Perfumania Holdings Inc. has sought chapter 11 protection with plans to reorganize around its better-performing stores. “Unlike many retailers who have filed for bankruptcy, Perfumania sees a viable path forward,” Chief Executive Michael Katz said in court papers filed Saturday.

July 2017 – Alfred Angelo

The major bridal dress chain abruptly closed an array of its stores in July leaving brides and bridesmaids dress-less, panicked, and in limbo. Alfred Angelo – a Florida-based company that stocks at nearly 1,400 boutiques across the U.S. and internationally, including self-owned and operates stores in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, and D.C. – has since confirmed the store closures and that it has filed for bankruptcy protection.

July 2017 – True Religion

U.S. denim retailer True Religion Apparel confirmed that it has filed for bankruptcy protection and signed a restructuring agreement with a majority of its lenders. True Religion, a company whose denims have gradually fallen out of style, filed for creditor protection under Chapter 11 in the U.S. bankruptcy court in the District of Delaware, and listed assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million.

June 2017 – Papaya Clothing

Teen apparel seller Papaya Clothing has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The privately held California-based company, which maintains a network of 80 brick-and-mortar stores and about 1,300 employees, said in its filing that its financial difficulties came from competition from e-commerce and a poorly timed expansion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Opening its first store in 1999, Papaya added about 50 new stores in the last six years. The expansion took “a heavy financial toll” and significantly increased operating expenses, court papers stated.

May 2017 –  Rue21

U.S. teen fashion retailer Rue21 Inc filed for Chapter 11 protection on Monday in the Western District of Pennsylvania bankruptcy court.The retail chain, which sells budget-priced clothing and accessories at over 1,100 stores across the United States, listed assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion and $10 billion, according to the court filing.

April 2017 – Jaeger

British brand Jaeger has gone into administration, following confirmation from the brand it filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators. According to the BBC, Jaeger, which was founded in 1884 and has counted actresses and Kate Middleton among its fans, has struggled to keep up with rivals, such as Burberry, or see off competition from fast-fashion chains including Zara and H&M.

April 2017 – Payless, Inc

Payless filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in St. Louis, listing liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion and citing a plan to immediately close about 400 underperforming stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. “This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify,” Chief Executive Officer W. Paul Jones said in a statement.

March 2017 – BCBG Max Azria

BCBG, a venerated contemporary brand, which has been a major force in the Los Angeles fashion industry for nearly 30 years, filed for bankruptcy in a third attempt in two years to rescue the business hit hard by changing consumer habits. According to its bankruptcy filing, BCBG is rejecting a number of store leases and closing 120 unprofitable stores that racked up $10 million in losses during fiscal 2016. These stores made up 63 percent of BCBG’s total losses from retail locations with negative contribution margins, the company said in U.S. Bankruptcy Court filings in New York.

Some lenders have agreed to loan the company $45 million to help it get through bankruptcy. That loan must be approved by the judge in the case. BCBG owes lenders about $459 million.

February 2017 – Wet Seal (Round 2)

Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy protection in early February, following reports that the struggling teen apparel retailer had closed all its stores after it was unable to find a buyer. It has since asked the Delaware bankruptcy court to approve an auction for its intellectual property, including its name and assets connected to its website.

January 2017 – The Limited

The Limited filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. Parent company Limited Stores LLC has agreed to a “stalking horse” bid for its intellectual property and some related assets from an affiliate of private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The company announced that all 250 brick-and-mortar stores will be closed.

NOW: After shuttering its brick-and-mortar stores, the company has also “temporarily closed” its website, writing, “Please know that it has been such an honor to provide fashion for you and other strong, confident women for more than 50 years.” In addition, the retailer noted that all orders not already shipped have been canceled.

January 2017 – Bibhu Mohapatra

The New York City-based designer, Bibhu Mohaptra, filed for bankruptcy in early 2017, telling the Wall Street Journal that he plans to continue operations and he feels the debt restructuring will make his company more attractive to investors. Mohapatra also said the restructuring will allow him to start a more affordable second collection.


December 2016 – Yogasmoga

New York-based athletic apparel firm Yogasmoga filed for Chapter 11 in a bankruptcy court in Manhattan, following an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November. Despite its pure-digital start, Yogasmoga soon took its yoga clothing to two brick-and-mortar stores in 2015, upping up its physical network in ten shops during the past twelve months. Many stress that the founders’ liking for expensive artisan fabrics and costly photography, together with its rapid expansion set the project to fail.

NOW: The yoga company has closed all of its stores except one, which is located in San Diego. “The brand and product is still connecting very strongly with the consumer, so we are shrinking our footprint to online and taking Yogasmoga forward with a smaller footprint online and through the La Jolla store,” the company’s founder, Rishi Bali, said in an email.

November 2016 – American Apparel (Round 2)

American Apparel filed for its second bankruptcy protection in just over a year in November 2016, weighed down by intense competitive pressures facing U.S. teen retailers and a rocky relationship with its founder. The second bankruptcy came as the retailer struggles to overcome years of losses and rising online competition.

NOW: Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear won a bankruptcy auction to buy American Apparel’s manufacturing equipment and intellectual property rights for $88 million in cash. The Canadian company beat out other reportedly interested parties, such as Forever 21 and Amazon. American Apparel stores are currently offering steep discounts to clear out leftover merchandise, and all 110 will shutter.

November 2016 – Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal has had a rough couple of years: It cut jobs in both 2015 and 2016, and founder Sophia Amoruso ceded the role of CEO at the beginning of 2016. The company had also been on the receiving end of an array of lawsuits in recent years, both from former employees, who have all cited various forms of discrimination, and intellectual property rights holders, including jewelry designer Pamela Love, who filed a copyright infringement suit against Nasty Gal in summer 2016.

In November, Nasty Gal’s lender, Hercules Technology Growth Capital Inc, a Palo Alto-based lender to venture-backed firms, rejected additional proposals from the brand, which requested a loan just two days into its bankruptcy filing. The brand, instead, filed for Chapter 11.

NOW: Online retailer Boohoo.com purchased Nasty Gal for $20 million as a stalking horse bidder. Per WWD, “they did not include the company’s two Los Angeles area store leases.”

May 2016 – Aeropostale

Aero, like other moderately priced brands, was rocked by the fast fashion stars like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 responding to fashion trends at warp speed, with very cheap price tags to boot, leaving older brands in the dust.  Aeropostale filed for Chapter 11 and planned to close more than 100 stores. This came shortly after shares in the company were delisted by the New York stock Exchange in April.

NOW: The mall brand exited Chapter 11 in September 2016 – with only 229 stores, as opposed the approximately 800 they previously boasted. They are now owned in part by mall operators Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties, who jointly bid $243 million.

April 2016 – Pacific Sunwear

Once a staple merchant of California cool, PacSun wasn’t able to adapt as fashion trends left surfwear behind and over-expansion sapped its resources. It amassed crippling debt as it recorded losses each year since 2008. Every effort at reinvention failed, and the company filed for bankruptcy, as the company’s shares were down 96 percent over the previous 12 months.

NOW: PacSun restructured and emerged from bankruptcy in September, under new ownership of Golden Gate Capital. The brand has seen a boost in online sales.

January 2016 – Joyce Leslie

Under pressure from a fiercely competitive market and the rise of e-commerce, New Jersey-based women’s apparel retailer Joyce Leslie Inc. began looking for a buyer to stave off liquidation, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a sharp decline in revenue.

NOW: Unable to find a buyer after 30 days, Joyce Leslie closed all stores in February last year. CEO Celia Clancy said in a statement, “Unfortunately, our efforts to find a strategic partner to help save the business were not successful. We are saddened to say that we now have to close our doors after 65 years.”


December 2015 – Tamara Mellon

The 48-year-old launched her eponymous accessories label in 2013 after co-founding luxury shoe label Jimmy Choo. Her designs were stocked at Net-a-Porter.com and included ready-to-wear pieces as well as shoes and handbags. She filed for Chapter 11 in December 2015.

NOW: Tamara Mellon relaunched her brand in Los Angeles in mid-2016, selling shoes and handbags exclusively on her own site.

October 2015 – American Apparel (Round 1)

American Apparel filed for its first round of bankruptcy in the fall of 2015, after announcing in August that it might not have enough capital to sustain operations for 12 months.  The Los Angeles-based company, which confirmed that it had not made a profit since 2009, joined a growing number of U.S. retailers selling to teens and young adults that have been unable to adjust to changing spending patterns and intensifying competition. The company said its stores and manufacturing operations would continue to operate normally under a restructuring deal reached with most secured lenders.

NOW: See above.

September 2015 – Quiksilver

Shares in Quiksilver plunged almost 80 percent in 2015 as the company wrestled with both shipping and accounting issues, and then filed for bankruptcy. It was forced to delay its first-quarter earnings report in March due to a “revenue cut-off issue,” and CEO Andy Mooney left the company that same month.

NOW: Quiksilver was revived thanks to a $50 million investment by Oaktree Capital Management LP. Most recently, Quiksilver partnered with New Schoolers to host a talent-seeking ski competition.

April 2015 –  Frederick’s of Hollywood

Known for its racy women’s lingerie, Frederick’s of Hollywood filed for bankruptcy after closing all its stores and reaching a deal to sell the company as an online-only venture to Authentic Brands Group LLC. The previous year, Frederick’s was taken private for about $24.8 million by investors led by a unit of New York-based Harbinger Group Inc. – at the time of the deal, Frederick’s had 94 women’s clothing stores; at its height it had more than 200.

NOW: Per the deal with Authentic Brands Group LLC, Frederick’s now operates exclusively online.

March 2015 – Karmaloop

Weighed down by millions in debt and by poor business ventures, the Boston streetwear company, Karmaloop Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2015.

NOW: Although Kanye West and hip-hop entrepreneur Dame Dash expressed interest in buying a majority stake in the company, ultimately only West Palm Beach, FL-based Comvest Partners and Chicago-based CapX Partners bid to save the company.

February 2015 – Cache

The women’s clothing chain known for helping popularize Armani designs in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy as the sector struggled with growing competition and lower spending by teen shoppers. Cache listed assets of $10 million-$50 million and liabilities of $50 million-$100 million. The mall based retailer, which had 218 outlets, had not reported a profit in the previous nine quarters.

NOW: Cache ended all business operations and closed all stores. According to the brand’s site: “Under previous ownership, Cache went out of business and closed all stores. Next steps for preserving the well-known Cache brand are being explored under new ownership.”

January 2015 – Wet Seal (Round 1)

Wet Seal (like other similar chains) filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2015, hurt by stores like H&M and Forever 21 that woo young people with fast-changing selections of low-priced fashion.  Immediately prior, Wet Seal announced that it was closing about 338 stores, or two-thirds of its total. Private equity firm Versa acquired the Wet Seal brand in April 2015, announcing that it would maintain its headquarters and continue operating its 173 stores and growing its online platform.

NOW: See above.


December 2014 – Deb Stores  

The Philadelphia-based operator of Deb Shops filed for bankruptcy in December 2014, blaming a shortage of capital. “Deb’s recent performance has been strained due to a combination of factors, including historic lack of capital invested in business resulting in old, tired stores with unfavorable mall traffic trends and general weakness in the competitive juniors’ space,” Chief Executive Officer Dawn Robertson said in court papers.

NOW: Deb Stores has revamped itself into an e-commerce only business, selling exclusively on its own website.

December 2014 – dEliA*s

Delia’s was another clothing retailer that filed for bankruptcy in 2014, citing stagnating shopping-mall traffic and consumers looking to the Internet for bargains.

NOW: Delia’s has revamped itself into an e-commerce only business, selling exclusively on its own website.

July 2014 – Love Culture

Founded in 2007 by former Forever 21 executives Jai Rhee and Bennett Koo, Love Culture launched as a brand aimed at women in the 18-to-35 age range. The company had 82 brick-and-mortar stores stretching from Massachusetts to Hawaii at the time of filing for bankruptcy. In its filings, Love Culture said it “plans during the bankruptcy process to close money-losing stores, restructure its debt and investigate options ‘including a possible sale of substantially all of its assets as a going concern.’”

NOW: The company has since revamped as an online-only retailer.

March 2014 – Ashley Stewart

According to a statement from the company upon filing for bankruptcy, Ashley Stewart began suffering financially in 2012 due to a decline in revenue and profitability. While the company brought on “new senior management and refocused its merchandizing and e-commerce efforts,” it was forced to file for bankruptcy nonetheless.

NOW: The company maintains a network of brick-and-mortar stores throughout the U.S., and also sells online by way of its own e-commerce site.


December 2013 – Loehmann’s (Round 3)

Loehmann’s filed for its latest round of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal bankruptcy court, indicating its plans to sell its remaining assets in an auction subject to the court’s approval. Executives with the retail chain, which operated fleet of 39 stores at the time, estimated the company was carrying $100 million in debt, an amount either equal to or greater than the value of its assets.

NOW: According to Loehmann’s, the company “is back, and here to stay.” It operates exclusively online.

July 2013 – Nicole Farhi

Three years after Nicole Farhi and Steven Marks sold off the label they launched together (and one year after Farhi ceased all work for the brand), the company filed for bankruptcy in the UK. According to analyst Peter Saville, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, “As with many other fashion retailers, the decline in high street spend coupled with rising costs has led to increased financial pressures on the business.”

NOW: The brand – sans Ms. Farhi – maintains stores in London and sells through Harvey Nichols and its own e-commerce site.


August 2012 – Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson, who started her eponymous label in 1978, filed for bankruptcy after being “bogged down in five-year projections.” She further noted: “Or maybe it all began when stores started knocking off my $250 prom dresses for $49.” Johnson’s partner Steve Madden stated that the company “had delusions of building a huge company and going public. So they borrowed a lot of money, they had too many stores, and their rents were too high.”

Johnson filed for bankruptcy and closed all of her 63 stores after falling into millions of dollars into debt. In 2013, Johnson returned to New York Fashion Week to celebrate the launch of her new collection, intended to “hit department stores and retailers at affordable prices.”

NOW: Betsey Johnson currently maintains its own e-commerce site, where it sells garments, accessories, and home goods. It also sells via Macy’s, Dillard’s, and other similarly situated retailers.

April 2012 – Aquascutum

Troubled British clothing label Aquascutum – which was launched as a menswear brand in London in 1851 and family-owned until 1990, entered into administration. Following “challenging conditions in the UK,” the brand hoped for a turnaround in the company’s fortunes, but were derailed further by the fact Aquascutum’s royalty rights for the Asian market, a high growth area for luxury goods, have belonged to Hong Kong’s YGM Trading since 2009.

NOW: Aquascutum was acquired by a Chinese consortium in 2016 for $120 million. In 2015 the brand closed 14 of its stores in China amid declining sales, but opened one in Europe. In the UK, its three remaining standalone stores are in Westfield London, Great Marlborough Street and Jermyn Street.


November 2010 – Loehmann’s (Round 2)

Discount apparel retailer Loehmann’s sought bankruptcy protection after its Dubai government-linked owner failed to reach a debt-extension deal with creditors.

NOW: See above.

April 2010 – Rock & Republic

Rock & Republic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in hopes that restructuring would enable the Los Angeles-based denim company to “ease pressures on its balance sheet.” The brand, which sold its wares at upscale stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s and collaborated with celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, cited assets between $50 million and $100 million and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million.

NOW: Under a long-term licensing agreement with VF Corp. – which bought Rock & Republic’s trademarks at a bankruptcy auction last March – VF is manufacturing Rock & Republic’s denim component, with Kohl’s design and sourcing teams responsible for the rest of the apparel categories. The line is now sold exclusively at American department store retailing chain, Kohl’s.


October 2009 – Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto’s label began to experience financial trouble when “fashion conscious Japanese women turned to cheaper casual clothes amid the economic slump. In contrast to high-end fashion houses like Yamamoto, demand for low-cost clothes was booming in Japan” during the first decade of the 2000’s. Saddled with a $76 million debt, Yamamoto filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan.

NOW: Yohji Yamamoto regularly shows during Paris Fashion Week, with stockists including FarFetch, Lyst, and FWRD, and brick-and-mortar stores worldwide.

August 2009 – Escada

Following a 70-million-euro loss for the 2007/2008 financial year, Escada reported further losses with Chief financial officer Markus Schuerholz stating in early 2008 that the company was in danger of insolvency. After an emergency stock swap plan intended to save the company from bankruptcy failed to find sufficient backing among investors, the company filed for bankruptcy.

NOW: The German label – under the creative direction of Daniel Wingate – recently released its Pre-Fall 2017 collection.

May 2009 – Christian Lacroix

Lacroix’s fashion house operated at a loss every year since it was founded in 1987 under the umbrella of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. LVMH’s plan was to create a fashion house which would sell products from haute couture to handbags and perfume. But Lacroix never had a hit perfume or an “it” bag.

In 2005 LVMH sold the firm for a nominal sum to the Falic Group, owner of Duty Free Americas, a retail chain. Lacroix persuaded the Falic Group to take the brand further upmarket. The new owners closed two cheaper but profitable lines, Jeans and Bazar, and raised prices for ready-to-wear. Per Forbes, “after 22 years of bucking trends and ignoring the bottom line, Christian Lacroix filed for the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in France.”

NOW: Lacroix, himself, is consulting and working as a costume designer for some of Europe’s top cultural institutions. The brand, which no longer stages runway shows or sells runway garments, sustains itself through the sale of Christian Lacroix branded home goods.

February 2009 – Gianfranco Ferré

The Italian design house filed for administration in early 2009 in what Italian Industry Minister Claudio Scajola called a move aimed “to safeguard the group and its ability to continue in business.” In 2002, Tonino Perna’s IT Holding purchased 90% of the company, while Ferré, himself, retained the position of artistic director until he died in 2007.

NOW: As of now, the brand appears to consist almost exclusively of licensed goods, such as fragrances, as well as its mid-market Ferre Milano collection of garments and accessories, which is sold on Yoox.


December 2008 – Bill Blass

Bill Blass Ltd. filed for Chapter 7 liquidation (the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code provides for “liquidation” – the sale of a debtor’s nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors), citing $192,000 in total assets with debts of $829,000. WWD reported at the time that NexCen – the owner of Bill Blass – was suffering so significantly that it planned to sell the furniture in the Bill Blass showroom. The bankruptcy filing came on the heels of creative director Peter Som exiting the label, retailers losing interest in the brand, and parent company NexCen enduring significant trouble in selling off the brand.

Bill Blass Limited – now known as Bill Blass Group, LLC – was acquired in December 2008 by Peacock International Holdings, LLC. In late October 2014, designer Chris Benz was appointed Creative Director of Bill Blass, which relaunched during the Spring of 2016. Upon his appointment, Benz said he was “…planning an e-commerce push, collaborations with up-and-coming designers and established artists, an accessories range and, possibly, a line of home goods.”

NOW: Still standing, the brand currently sells on Amazon and its own e-commerce site.

February 2008 – Heatherette

Fubu creator Daymond John, who acquired Heatherette in the mid-2000’s when it was in its heyday of showing during New York Fashion Week and garnering fans like Paris Hilton, said that despite injecting upwards of $6 million in the company, he and the label’s founders, Traver Rains and Richie Rich, could not make it work. Per John, the designers indulged in extravagant costume clothing for the runway but failed to develop a hot ready-to-wear retail line.

NOW: Who knows? The label is soundly defunct.

1977 to FY 2001

January 2001 – Converse

Sneaker maker Converse announced in early 2001 that it planned to close three North American production plants, which employed about 1,000 people, and to shift production to Asia as part of a bankruptcy reorganization. Chairman and CEO Glenn Rupp insisted that the Converse brand and its sales were strong, but the company was simply too overwhelmed by debt dating back to its 1995 acquisition of ApexOne and subsequent litigation. It also suffered through a dramatic slump in the athletic footwear market worldwide in 1998 and 1999.

In July 2003, Nike paid $309 million to acquire Converse. Nike relaunched the brand’s footwear of choice and “Chucks” quickly became a cultural phenomenon once again. As a result, Nike expanded the Converse brand to other businesses apart from shoes, much akin to its other brands.

NOW: As of 2015, the company is bringing in roughly $2 billion per year, and is consistently making headlines for actively policing unauthorized uses of its intellectual property.

May 1999 – Loehmann’s (Round 1)

In the first of three round of bankruptcy proceedings, Loehmann’s – a chain of off-price department stores in the United States – filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 1999, emerging in 2000 after closing 25 stores.

NOW: See above.

January 1994 – JNCO

Within months of filing for bankruptcy, the brand, which was popular among skater-types, closed all 1,500 its locations, making it one of the largest retail bankruptcies in history.

NOW: In early 2015, the fashion press was quick to proclaim that “JNCO is back in the spotlight,” set to officially relaunch in stores beginning in 2015. While the revamp has not yet caught on, the JNCO jeans style – the long, massively baggy denim – is making its way onto the runway. “Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia decided to tackle JNCOs. Keeping true to their original design (minus the massive back pockets), they’re just as voluminous as you remember,” per The Cut blog.

January 1992 – Macy’s

At the time of filing, Macy’s had experienced a $1.25 billion loss in its most recent fiscal year. The bulk of the loss was a result of costs associated with the massive reorganization proceedings, including store closings. Macy’s also was hurt by the weak economy, and disasters in two areas where it has a strong presence: Florida, hit by Hurricane Andrew, and Los Angeles, stung by riots.

NOW: After thriving for years, Macy’s, the largest department-store company in the U.S., has cut its earnings outlook, vowed to eliminate 10,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of its workforce, and close over 60 stores before the spring. Following a sluggish holiday season, the beleaguered retailer is taking more drastic steps to slim down as it copes with slow traffic and weak sales in key categories, such as handbags. It previously announced plans to shut 100 underperforming stores, and the chain has been evaluating ways to squeeze more money out of its real estate.

Moreover, if recent reports are accurate, Hudson’s Bay – the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Gilt Groupe, and other retailers – is said to be in discussions to buy Macy’s.

1989 – Fiorucci

Fiorucci, the Italian fashion label founded by Elio Fiorucci in 1967, went into administration in 1989. [Note: A company in “administration” is either about to become insolvent, or is already insolvent (i.e. cannot pay its debts). The UK-based insolvency proceeding is very similar to the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy process].

NOW: Fiorucci was rescued by the Tacchella brothers of Italian jeans company Carrera S.p.A., who ultimately sold the company to a Japanese jeans group, Edwin Co., Ltd, for roughly $41 million in 1990. The Fiorucci and Edwin Co., Ltd have since been battling over the rights in the Fiorucci name with the Italian Supreme Court ruling in October 2016 that the designer’s estate may not use his name.

Nonetheless, as of the Spring 2017 season, the brand will begin selling again, revived almost two years after the death of its founder, Elio.

1977 – Tommy Hilfiger

Before becoming an American fashion icon, Tommy Hilfiger launched his first brand, People’s Place, in 1971 – but after six years in business he filed for bankruptcy. Speaking of the expiree, he has said: “We went bankrupt. I was devastated. I was embarrassed. I had started with nothing and worked so hard, and we were so close to making it really big, but I had taken my eye off the ball. I believed that the business would just continue to do well. But it didn’t, because I wasn’t paying attention to the ‘business’ part of the business … I forced myself to learn the nuts and bolts of the business, and not solely on the creative side. I got hyper-focused on it. I learned how to read a balance sheet. I figured out how to control expenses and figured out a way to build a business on a shoestring budget.”

In 1985, Hilfiger launched his eponymous label with backing from the Murjani Group. In March 2010, Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH) bought the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation for $3 billion, in a deal that was nearly seven times what PVH had paid for Calvin Klein in 2003.

NOW: Tommy Hilfiger, himself, remains the company’s principal designer, leading the design teams and overseeing the entire creative process. In fiscal 2015, the Tommy Hilfiger brand accounted for 43.5% of PVH’s total revenue and 44% of its operating profit. As of December 1, 2016, Tommy Hilfiger revenue increased in the quarter to $927 million, and international revenue increased 16% to $525 million.

*This list was first published in December 2016 and has been routinely updated since then. 

With the rise in social media usage over the past two decades or so and the decline in conventional advertising formats has come a surge in ad efforts on social media platforms. This push to meet consumers where they are has meant that the jobs of influential figures – from fashion industry influencers to Hollywood celebrities – have expanded to include building and maintaining sizable social media followings in order to leverage those followings for big-money advertising partnerships. IMG Models’ Luiz Mattos, the agent behind the likes of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid, and actress Priyanka Chopra, put it well when he said, “These days, models’ jobs don’t end when they leave the studio or the runway,” and absolutely extends to “posting on social [media].”

One of the glaring side effects of such increased attention to social media – paired with a handful of notably aggressive lawyers – is the growing number of copyright infringement lawsuits that are being filed against individuals and brands over their unauthorized use of others’ images either of themselves, in the case celebrities and models, or of others in their wares when it comes to brands. Regardless of who appears in a photo (as copyright law does not award rights based on the subject of a photo, although at least some, such as Gigi Hadid, have taken to arguing that joint copyright rights should exist in some cases), the individual(s) behind the creation of a photo, almost exclusively paparazzi photographers (or their employers) in these instances, are the copyright holders, and as a result, any use of images by individuals other than the copyright holder gives rise to copyright infringement claims. 

With the foregoing in mind, here is a non-exhaustive (running) look at some of the recently-filed paparazzi v. celebrity and paparazzi v. brand cases …

DECEMBER 2022 – Robert O’Neil v. Isabella Khairiah “Bella” Hadid, 1:22-cv-10711 (SDNY)

Bella Hadid has landed on the end of yet another suit. In the complaint that he filed on Dec. 20, Robert O’Neil (who has sued Emily Ratajkowski, Blake Lively, Gigi Hadid, etc. in the past) claims that he “authored a photograph of Bella Hadid in a red bandana and navy-blue bikini” in December 2020, which the model posted to her Instagram “without permission or authorization” two days later.

Speaking to their respective activities (and mirroring claims that he made in his suit against Ratajkowski, presumably in an attempt to get ahead of any arguments that the paparazzi photo is not copyrightable subject matter due to a lack of creative decision making on his part), O’Neil says that in creating the photograph, he “personally selected the subject matter, timing, lighting, angle, perspective, depth, lens and camera equipment used to capture the image.” Meanwhile, O’Neil argues that Hadid, who boasts 57 million followers on Instagram, “takes an active and pervasive role in the content posted on her account, including, but not limited to copying, posting, selecting, commenting on and/or displaying images including but not limited to [his] photograph.”

DECEMBER 2022 – Chouet Press SAS v. Isabella Khiar Hadid, 2:22-cv-08967 (C.D.Cal.)

Bella Hadid has been named in yet another paparazzi-initiated lawsuit, with Chouet’Press SAS dba BestImage (“BestImage”) accusing Hadid of copying a photo of herself that it maintains a copyright registration for and “display[ing] it on Instagram, via the @bellahadid account, on June 27, 2021.” In a nod to “Hadid’s popularity and celebrity status,” BestImage claims that it (and the photographer it represents) “stood to gain licensing revenue from licensing the Photograph.” That never happened, though, as “when content is distributed widely for free by infringers, legitimate licensors like BestImage customers will decline to license that content, or the amount they are willing to pay will be reduced.”

“Legitimate publications to which BestImage looks to pay licensing fees are unwilling to pay for work that is already widely disseminated on the internet for free.” the plaintiff further asserts, claiming that “this is especially true when, as here, celebrities distribute images of themselves to their millions of followers without authorization.”

NOVEMBER 2022 Claudia Fiorella Occhipinti v. Paris Hilton, 2:22-cv-08688 (C.D.Cal.)

Paris Hilton and two of the entities she controls Paris Hilton Entertainment, Inc. and 11:11: Media, LLC are being sued for copyright infringement for allegedly co-opting photos that were licensed for use for a Paris Hilton fragrance project and using them across many additional projects without photographer Claudia Occhipinti’s authorization. “In 2019, Ms. Occhipinti was engaged to shoot photographs of Paris Hilton for the sole purpose of promotion of Ms. Hilton’s ‘Electrify’ fragrance in certain types of media, limited to packaging, in store advertising, conventions or trade shows, and internet web advertising related to the fragrance. No other uses were permitted or requested, nor was sub-licensing permitted,” Occhipinti asserts.

Specifically, Occhipinti asserts that the defendants used the photos to “promote various different brands owned by Ms. Hilton, outside the scope of the agreed upon license, as well as to promote ‘Electrify’ in channels outside the scope of the permitted Uses.” She points to 15 Instagram posts from Hilton and/or Hilton’s brands, which use the photos to promote Paris Hilton merch, LuMee iPhone cases, Hilton’s “This is Paris” series, and various DJ sets, as well as a bus ad for the Electrify fragrance.

Setting out claims of copyright infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment, and seeking injunctive relief and damages, Occhipinti claims that “Ms. Hilton’s actions have deprived [her] of revenue and have caused [her] significant monetary harm.”

OCTOBER 2021 – Eva’s Photography, Inc. v. Inamorata Swim LLC, 2:21-cv-08136 (C.D.Cal.)

In the latest in a string of lawsuits being filed over the allegedly unauthorized posting of photos of Emily Ratajkowski by Emily Ratajkowski, Eva’s Photography has filed suit against Ratajkowski’s brand Inamorata Swim on the heels of the model-slash-actress posting a since-deleted photo of herself on her personal Instagram account in May. (The photo was subsequently shared by JW PEI, the brand that made the purse that Ratajkowski is toting in the photo; JW PEI is not named as a defendant in the complaint.)

According to Eva’s Photography’s complaint, Ratajkowski “engaged in this misconduct knowingly and in violation of the United States copyright laws.”

OCTOBER 2021 – Backgrid USA v. Scott Disick, 2:21-cv-07887 (C.D.Cal.)

Scott Disick of Keeping Up with the Kardashians fame is being sued for posting not one paparazzi photo to his Instagram account without licensing the photo or otherwise receiving authorization to use it, but for posting eight unauthorized photos to his heavily followed Instagram account @letthelordbewithyou dating back to 2016. According to Backgrid’s newly-filed complaint, in at least one of the Instagram posts featuring the copyright-protected imagery, Disick “included text that promoted [his] fashion apparel brand, Talentless,” namely by way of a caption that read, “Looking good in the @talentless Vote sweatshirt.”

Addressing the harm caused by Disick’s alleged infringements, Backgrid asserts that his use of the photos “devalued the photographs and harmed BackGrid because they were re-posted and copied by others, including by BackGrid customers who would otherwise license the Photographs from BackGrid. For example, BackGrid’s customer The Daily Mail reposted Mr. Disick’s Instagram post that included [a photo of Disick in front of Nobu in 2018].” Additionally, Backgrid claims that Disick’s “unauthorized uses of the photographs are commercial in nature,” as he “uses his Instagram account for the purposes of promotion—specifically, to promote his business interests, products, and ventures— specifically Talentless; to promote and sell the products and services of others; to maintain and increase his visibility and desirability as endorser and television personality; and to promote his own persona given his celebrity status and popularity.”

SEPTEMBER 2021 – Backgrid USA v. Rhude Designs LLC, 2:21-cv-07567 (C.D.Cal.)

In a newly-filed copyright lawsuit, Backgrid claims that Los Angeles-based brand Rhude and its founder Rhuigi Villaseñor are both on the hook for copyright infringement for engaging in “at least 4 instances of infringement by way of [their] unlawful reproduction and display of the celebrity photographs,” including one of actor James Franco wearing their designs. Specifically, Backgrid claims that the defendants “reproduced, distributed, displayed, and created unauthorized derivative works of the timely registered celebrity photographs on its Instagram account without consent or license” in an attempt to boost traffic to the brand’s social media account and its e-commerce site.

In furtherance of efforts “to promote the brand, both the Rhude Brand and Villaseñor engage customers and prospective customers through their Instagram accounts,” the photo agency asserts, alleging that “Rhude has driven significant traffic to its Instagram and increased the goodwill to its brand through the unauthorized use of the celebrity photographs, and, thereby, has increased its revenues through the presence of the sought-after and searched-for celebrity photographs that frame this dispute.”

Such traffic translated into a “substantial ill-gotten commercial advantage and increased brand awareness as a direct consequence of the infringements,” per BackGrid, which claims that “Villaseñor personally participated in the willful infringement at issue in this case on behalf of the Rhude Brand by and through the Rhude Brand Instagram account, making the infringement on each account the responsibility of both the Rhude Brand and Villaseñor.”

SEPTEMBER 2021 – Robert O’Neil v. Blakel, Inc., 2:21-cv-07386 (C.D.Cal.)

In a short, 7-page complaint photographer Robert O’Neil accuses Blake Lively’s corporate entity of copyright infringement in connection with her since-deleted Instagram post that featured a photo of herself from August 2018. According to O’Neil, Lively “did not license the photograph from [him],” nor did she have his “permission or consent to publish the photograph.”

Interestingly (although, probably unsurprisingly), Instagram account @commentsbycelebs posted part of the same image back in August 2018 along with a screenshot of a comment that Lively made in response to another Instagram user who urged her to either “hire a stylist or fire the one you’re currently with,” but was not targeted in the same copyright infringement suit or a separate suit.

JULY 2021 – Javier Mateo v. Emily Ratajkowski, 2:21-cv-05684 (C.D.Cal.)

Javier Mateo filed suit against Emily Ratajkowski, asserting that he is the rightful owner of three photos that she “actively copied, stored, and/or displayed” on her Instagram account without his permission or authorization. Mateo claims that the model-slash-actress “engaged in this misconduct knowingly and in violation of the U.S. copyright laws.” 

Additionally, Mateo asserts in his complaint that Ratajkowski “has the legal right and ability to control and limit the infringing activities on her [Instagram] account,” “monitors the content on her account,” and “at all times had the ability to stop the reproduction and display of [his] copyrighted material.” Yet, the photographer plaintiff argues that she “willfully and volitionally posted” the images to her account, and “received a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringements,” while also allegedly “harming … [the] potential market for the photographs.”

JULY 2021 – Integral Images v. Dua Lipa, 2:21-cv-05470 (C.D.Cal.)

In a largely run of the mill copyright infringement complaint, Integral Images asserts that Lipa posted the now-deleted photo to her Instagram account, along with the caption, “I’ll be living under big fluffy hats until further notice,” without licensing the photo or otherwise receiving the photo licensing agency’s authorization, thereby, running afoul of federal copyright law. Hardly an innocent mistake, Integral Images claims that Lipa knowingly displayed the image without its authorization, and stood to benefit by posting it to her heavily-followed Instagram, as the account is “monetized in that it contains content designed to accumulate followers who are directed to, via link and/or advertisement, consume and purchase [her] content.”

JULY 2021 – Timur Mishiev v. Katharine McPhee Foster, 2:21-cv-05682 (C.D.Cal.)

JULY 2021 – John Carta v. Kaley Christine Cuoco, 2:21-cv-05681 (C.D.Cal.)

JUNE 2021 – Backgrid USA, Inc. v. Lisa Rinna, 2:21-cv-04779 (C.D. Cal.)

FEBRUARY 2021 – Backgrid USA, Inc. v. Outdoor Voices, Inc., 2:21-cv-01325 (C.D.Cal.)

Outdoor Voices is on the hook for copyright infringement, according to a newly-filed suit. “BackGrid is the owner and exclusive copyright holder of a photographic image, originally created by photographer Silvio Antonio as part of a series of photographic images, depicting international model Alessandra Ambrosio walking and wearing a light orange colored sweat suit that, on information and belief, was designed by defendant Outdoor Voices,” the photo agency asserts in its complaint. Despite “never licens[ing] the photograph to Outdoor Voices,” Backgrid claims that the company “copied” the image and “distributed it on Instagram on February 5, 2020, via its account @outdoorvoices.” BackGrid says that it “discovered Outdoor Voices’ infringement of the photo on or about February 6, 2020.”

At the same time, Backgrid asserts that Outdoor Voices similarly infringed two separate photos “depicting musician Harry Styles walking near a white SUV”  – while wearing Outdoor Voices apparel  – when it “copied … and distributed them on Instagram story on August 18, 2018, via its account @outdoorvoices,” which BackGrid discovered “on or about August 18, 2018.”

Such allegedly unauthorized use of the image by Outdoor Voices – which “specifically posted the Photographs on Instagram to advertise the Outdoor Voices apparel worn by Alessandra Ambrosio and Harry Styles” – “harms BackGrid’s business model by driving down the prices for legitimately licensed celebrity images and driving away BackGrid’s actual and potential customers,” the photo agency argues, noting that “BackGrid’s customers—among them, media companies who pay large license fees for celebrity visual content—are less likely to purchase licenses, or pay as much for a license, when the same visual content will be widely distributed simultaneously on publicly available social media.”

JANUARY 2021 – Xposure Photo Agency Inc., v. Dundas World Ltd., 2:21-cv-00612 (C.D.Cal.)

Following a bit of a slowdown in filings, likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and due, in part, to a marked drop in filings by notorious copyright case-filer Richard Liebowitz, who Law360 notes has “routinely filed dozens of copyright cases each month [in recent years], but filed just four since the start of December,” designer Peter Dundas’ brand is on the receiving end of a copyright infringement suit. According to a complaint filed on January 22, Xposure claims that Dundas World posted a photo of “depicting model and Instagram star Maya Henry wearing clothing designed by [Dundas] and accompanied by singer-songwriter Liam Payne” on its Instagram story “specifically to advertise [its] ‘D6’ line of apparel.”

Xposure asserts that Dundas’ “unauthorized use is commercial in nature, [as] Dundas uses its Instagram feed for the purposes of promotion—specifically, to promote its own business interests, products, and ventures. Indeed, Dundas specifically posted the photograph to its story to advertise the Dundas-designed clothing worn by Maya Henry in the photograph.” Particularly, Xpsoure argues that “Dundas writes in the post ‘@maya_henry in #D6’ with D6 being one of the lines of apparel offered by Dundas. In short, [its] Instagram posts and stories promote its products, the infringing post at issue here being no exception.”

NOVEMBER 2020 – Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC v. Ashley Benson, 2:20-cv-10864 (C.D.Cal.).

MAY 2020 – BackGrid USA, Inc. v. Justin Bieber, 2:20-cv-04685 (C.D.Cal.).

APRIL 2020 Angela Ma v. Kendall Jenner, Inc. and Kendall Jenner, 2:20-cv-03011 (C.D.Cal.).

By posting a video to her Instagram that New York-based Angela Ma took of her outside if the Balenciaga store in Soho, Kendall Jenner engaged in copyright infringement, and is the “direct and proximate cause of the infringement,” and thus, should be forced to pay either the sum of Ma’s “actual damages and [Jenner’s] profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to [her] infringement of [Ma’s] video” or … alternatively, statutory damages up to $150,000. 

FEBRUARY 2020 – Gonzalez v. I.A.M.GIA (US) LLC, 1:20-cv-01483 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Buzzy Instagram-favored brand I.A.M.GIA posted photographs of Brazilian Victoria Secret model Bruna Lirio wearing its clothing and now is being sued for it. Photographer Alberto Gonzalez claims that the Southern California-based brand engaged in the “unauthorized reproduction and public display of two copyrighted photographs.” The problem, according to Gonzalez? “I Am Gia did not license the photographs from [him], nor did I Am Gia have [his] permission or consent to publish the photographs.”

FEBRUARY 2020 – Ramales v. Alexander Wang Incorporated, 1:20-cv-00926 (SDNY).

Felipe Ramales claims that Alexander Wang is on the hook for copyright infringement “arising out of [its] unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of singer Dua Lipa, owned and registered by Ramales, a professional photographer.”

FEBRUARY 2020 – Mishiev v. Hadid AKA Bella Hadid, 1:20-cv-00959 (SDNY).

image via complaint

In another suit filed against Bella Hadid, the model is being accused of copyright infringement in connection with a photo that she posted to Instagram in September 2019, complete with the caption: “@zendaya made this hat so I shall wear this hat until I can no longer wear this hat anymore @tommyhilfiger.” Turns out, photographer Timur Missive says that he took and maintains a copyright registration for the original photo, which Hadid cropped and posted to her account.

DECEMBER 2019 – Xposure Photo Agency Inc. v. Isabella Khiar Hadid p/k/a Bella Hadid, 2:19-cv-10587 (C.D.Cal).

According to a complaint filed in a California federal court, “model, businesswoman, and entrepreneur” Bella Hadid – “or someone acting on her behalf” – took five images owned by Xposure Photo Agency Inc. and posted them to her highly-followed Instagram account on various dates between September 6, 2016 and June 17, 2018, thereby, engaging in “systemic piracy” that causes “harm to the existing and future market for the original photographs.”

DECEMBER 2019 – Vila v. Fenty Corp., 1:19-cv-11790 (SDNY).

In the second paparazzi lawsuit filed against it in 2019, Rihanna and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Fenty is being sued for post a photo of model Irina Shayk to its Instagram stories. According to the complaint that professional photographer Carlos Vila filed, he took a photo of model Irina Shayk on a Manhattan street this summer, clad in denim pieces from Fenty – the high-end fashion venture that Rihanna launched this year with luxury powerhouse LVMH – only to have the brand use the image (without his authorization) to promote its offerings on Instagram. 

NOVEMBER 2019 – Eva’s Photography, Inc. v. HVN, LLC, 1:19-cv-11010 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Eva’s Photography, Inc. is taking on the eponymous brand for model-slash-DJ Harley Viera-Newton in a new suit, accusing the fashion company of infringing its copyright in a photo of Jennifer Lawrence. According to Eva’s Photograph’s complaint, while it is a “professional photography company the business of licensing photographs to online and print media for a fee,” HVN, LLC paid no such fee before it posted a photo of the actress in one of its dresses on its Instagram account.

NOVEMBER 2019 – Krieger v. Staud, Inc., 1:19-cv-10861 (SDNY).

Photographer David Krieger is suing buzzy young brand Staud over it allegedly “unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of actress Camila Mendes, [that the photog] owns and registered” with the U.S. Copyright Office. Krieger claims that in June, he photographed the Riverdale actress, who was wearing a Staud cropped top at the time, only to have the brand “post the photograph on its Instagram Story as tool to promote its brand.”

“Staud did not license the photograph from [him] for its Instagram Story,” Krieger claims, “nor did Staud have [his] permission or consent to publish the photograph on its Instagram Story,” thereby giving rise to his claim of copyright infringement.

OCTOBER 2019 – Carlos Vila v. Staud, Inc., 1:19-cv-09119 (SDNY).

image via complaint

In another suit filed against Staud, photographer Carlos Vila is taking issue with the brand’s “unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of British model and fashion designer Alexa Chung with her model boyfriend Matt Hitt,” which is “owned and registered by Vila.” Despite not being “licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the photograph,” Vila claims that Staud “reproduced and publicly displayed the photograph on [its] Instagram Story,” thereby running afoul of the law.

OCTOBER 2019 – Splash News v. Moschino S.P.A., Jeremy Scott, and Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar p/k/a Cardi B, 2:19-cv-09220 (C.D.Cal).

Jeremy Scott and Moschino, along with rapper Cardi B, are the latest names on a long list of fashion brands and celebrities to be sued for allegedly running afoul of federal copyright law by posting others’ images to their social media accounts without paying to license the photos or receiving the copyright holder’s authorization to post them. In a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, Splash News claims that Moschino, Scott, and Cardi B interfered with its photo-licensing business by posting photos taken this spring of Cardi B wearing a flower-covered Moschino coat. 

Los Angeles-based Splash New asserts in its newly-filed complaint that despite reaching out to Moschino to notify the fashion brand about the photos and “offering [the brand] a license for internal or social media use,” Moschino and its creative director “copied” the images from The Daily Mail – which was granted a license to published the photos by Splash News – “almost instantaneously” and posted them on their respective social media accounts, while Cardi B posted one of the photos to her Instagram a month later.   

OCTOBER 2019 – O’Neil v. Ratajkowski et al1:19-cv-09769 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Emily Ratajkowski’s “forever mood” is getting her sued. The model-splash-actress has been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit after posting a photo of herself on her Instagram account. According to a complaint filed in a New York federal court on Wednesday, photographer Robert O’Neil claims that Ratajkowski and her corporate entity Emrata Holdings LLC ran afoul of federal copyright law when the 28-year old posted one of his photos to her Instagram story.

OCTOBER 2019 – Stewart v. Are You Am I, 1:19-cv-09738 (SDNY).

Early fashion blogger Rumi Neely’s company Are You Am I is being sued. According to photographer Michael Stewart’s complaint, the Los Angeles-based brand ran afoul of federal copyright law by allegedly posting a photo of “it” model Kaia Gerber on its Instagram account without authorization from the copyright-holding photographer.

OCTOBER 2019 – Jawad Elatab v. Hesperios, Inc., 1:19-cv-9678 (SDNY).

Just over a month after photographer Robert Barbara filed suit against Mode PR for posting a photo of Bella Hadid wearing a top and skirt made/sold by its client Hesperios, a different photographer is suing the womenswear brand for posting a separate but similar photo of Hadid. In the complaint that Jawad Elatab filed against Hesperios, he claims that the brand violated his copyright rights by posting a photo of Bella Hadid.

OCTOBER 2019 – Barbera v. Justin Bieber Brands, LLC et al, 1:19-cv-09532 (SDNY).

image via complaint

We can add Justin Bieber to the list of celebs to be sued over paparazzi photos. The singer has been named in a copyright infringement suit after posting a photo of himself and cool-pastor Rich Wilkerson to his Instagram this spring without receiving authorization to do so from photographer Robert Barbera or paying a licensing fee. Barbera says that he “is the author of the photograph and has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the photograph, including the copyright thereto,” making Bieber’s Instagram post a violation of his exclusive rights as the copyright holder.  

OCTOBER 2019 – Nam v. Marc Jacobs International, L.L.C., 1:19-cv-09463 (SDNY).

image via complaint

And Marc Jacobs has been hit with yet another paparazzi lawsuit. In a complaint filed in a New York federal court, photographer Patrick Nam is suing the New York-based brand over its “unauthorized reproduction and public display of two copyrighted photographs of influencer Margaret Zhang. Nam claims that Marc Jacobs ran two “photographs of Zhang on [Instagram] as marketing to promote their brand,” despite not “licensing the photographs from [him],” or receiving “permission or consent to publish the photographs.”

OCTOBER 2019 – Nam v. Moschino USA, 1:19-cv-09462 (SDNY).

The same photographer that filed suit against Marc Jacobs is also taking on Moachino. According to Patrick Nam’s second lawsuit, “This action arises out of [Moschino’s] unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of model Golden Barbie at New York’s fashion week, [which is] owned and registered by Nam, a New York based professional photographer.” (Note: Golden Barbie is model Jasmine Sanders’ Instagram account handle).

Nam claims that “Moschino is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the photograph,” and thus, has run afoul of copyright law by posting.

OCTOBER 2019 – Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC v. Lopez2:19-cv-08598 (C.D. Cal.).

After New York-based brand Monse landed on the receiving end of a copyright infringement lawsuit for posting a photo of Jennifer Lopez in one of its dresses on Instagram in July and on the heels of Versace being sued before that for posting a photo on its account of Lopez wearing an all-over Versace print look to MTV’s Video Music Awards last year, the singer-slash-actress is now facing an infringement suit of her own after she posted a photo of herself and Alex Rodriguez on her heavily-followed Instagram account.

According to the complaint that Splash News filed in a California federal court last week, the Los Angeles-headquartered paparazzi photo agency is “the owner and exclusive copyright holder of a photographic image” captured by photographer Elder Ordonez in November 2017, which depicts “Lopez holding hands with her boyfriend Alex Rodriguez while out for breakfast in New York City.”  

OCTOBER 2019 – Eva’s Photography, Inc. v. Fenty Corp.1:19-cv-09120 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Rihanna’s Fenty Corp. is being sued over a photo of Gigi Hadid. Eva’s Photography, Inc. asserts in a new lawsuit that Rihanna’s fashion venture, which she launched this year with luxury powerhouse LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, shared a photo of Gigi Hadid wearing a corseted dark denim top from the brand’s debut drop on its Instagram story. The problem, according to the New York-based professional photography company? Fenty Corp. didn’t have permission to do so. 

Eva’s asserts in its complaint, which was filed in a New York federal court on October 1, it “has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the photograph” of Hadid pictured on a New York City street last month, including the copyright in the photo. 

This case settled in January 2020.

SEPTEMBER 2019 – Edward Opinaldo v. Spring London LTD., 1:19-cv-08788 (SDNY).

Spring London has landed on the wrong end of a copyright infringement suit. According to the complaint filed in New York federal court by counsel for Edward Opinaldo, the “leading fashion and luxury brand development, communications, digital, VIP and PR agency” has run afoul of the law by posting a photo that he took of actress Olivia Munn in June on its Instagram account – to promote its client Chalayan – without his permission.

Opinaldo says that he licensed the image of Munn to the Daily Mail, only to have Spring London “copy [it] from the Daily Mail and cropped off [his] watermark” before posting in on their Instagram account. “Spring London did not license the photograph from [Opinaldo] for its Instagram page, nor did Spring London have [his] permission or consent to publish the photograph on its Instagram page,” the complaint asserts.

SEPTEMBER 2019 – Robert Barbera v. Mode Public Relations, 1:19-cv-08636 (SDNY).

image via complaint

A photo of Bella Hadid is at the center of another copyright infringement lawsuit. According to the complaint that repeat plaintiff Robert Barbara filed on September 17, Mode Public Relations is on the hook for posting an image that he took of the supermodel to its Instagram in July without receiving his authorization or paying the licensing fee his photos command in order to legally do so.

The paparazzi photographer asserts that despite opyright “reproducing and publicly displaying the photograph [of Hadid] on its Instagram Page” this summer in promotion of New York-based womenswear brand Hesperios, “Mode PR is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the photo.”

SEPTEMBER 2019 – Felipe Ramales v. Victoria Beckham Inc., VB Beauty (US) LLC, and Victoria Beckham, 1:19-cv-08650 (SDNY).

Former Spice Girl-turned-fashion figure Victoria Beckham is on the receiving end of a new copyright infringement lawsuit after posting a photo of herself to her Instagram story this summer. According to the complaint that counsel for Felipe Ramales filed in a New York federal court on Tuesday, Beckham did not seek the photographer’s “permission or consent” before posting the image of herself on her Instagram account nor did she – or her corporate entities, Victoria Beckham INC. and VB Beauty LLC – pay to license it.

SEPTEMBER 2019 – Robert O’Neil v. Jelena Noura Hadid aka Gigi Hadid, 1:19-cv-8522 (SDNY).

Just two months after prevailing in a copyright infringement lawsuit in connection with a photo she posted of herself on her Instagram account, Gigi Hadid has been named in a new lawsuit – this time for the “unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of English singer and songwriter Zayn Malik.” According to the copyright suit filed by professional photographer Robert O’Neil in a New York federal court on Friday, Hadid added a photo of former boyfriend Malik to her Instagram story in June 2018. The problem? She did not have O’Neil’s permission to do so.

SEPTEMBER 2019 – Elatab v. Canary Yellow LLC1:19-cv-08114 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Virgil Abloh is being sued for copyright infringement for posting a photo of Bella Hadid. According to the complaint that Jawad Elatab filed in a New York federal court on Friday, the buzzy designer posted a photo of Hadid – toting a customized suitcase from a collaboration between his brand Off-White and Rimowa – to his Instagram account without paying to license the photo from the copyright-holding photographer or obtaining his “permission or consent to publish the photograph on [his] Instagram Story,” thereby giving rise to a copyright infringement dispute.

Elatab asserts in his complaint that Virgil Abloh – or better yet, Abloh’s corporate entity Canary Yellow LLC, which interestingly bears the name of a company that FUBU president Daymond John thought up back in 2003 – engaged in the “reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of model Bella Hadid,” one that he took of the supermodel in New York in March. While Vogue and the Daily Mail appear to have licensed the image from Elatab (i.e., entered into a contract in which the photographer grants specific rights to another party to use his/her image(s) in a specific capacity in exchange for compensation) – by way of photo agency Backgrid, the same cannot be said for Abloh, according to the complaint.

AUGUST 2019 – Opinaldo v. Adeam International Corporation1:19-cv-07719 (SDNY) and Opinaldo v. The Wall Group, LLC, 1:19-cv-07720 (SDNY).

image via complaint

Images of Emily Ratajkowski and Annabelle Wallis are at the center of two new paparazzi lawsuits. Edward Opinaldo has filed copyright infringement suits in a New York federal court in Monday, asserting that womenswear brand Adeam and creative management powerhouse The Wall Group posted images that he took of the buzzy model and English actress on their respective Instagram accounts without licensing the images or receiving his permission to do so.

AUGUST 2019 – Barbera v. Alexander Wang, Inc.,1:19-cv-07540 (SDNY)

images via complaint

Photographer Robert Barbera is taking on Alexander Wang in a copyright lawsuit after the designer allegedly posted a photo of Dua Lipa wearing to his Instagram without licensing it or obtaining the photographer’s authorization. According to the complaint, which was filed in a New York federal court, Barbera claims that he “photographed English singer and songwriter Dua Lipa” when she was leaving the Bowery Hotel in New York in early April 2019.

While Barbera licensed the photo to other companies to use, “Alexander Wang ran the photograph on [its Instagram and Facebook accounts]” to promote its clothing” without paying to license the photo. In particular, Wang made use of the image of the singer wearing its $795 Mini Shirt Dress and $795 Halo Bag to implement shoppable links on its Instagram page to enable consumers to easily identify and shop the products, noting that the dress and bag were “now available” for purchase.

JULY 2019 – Vila v. Monse LLC, 1:19-cv-07078 (SDNY) 

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Monse is in trouble for posting a photo of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez to its Instagram account without licensing it from the copyright-holder photographer who took it. That is what Carlos Vila asserts in the lawsuit he filed against the New York-based brand in a Manhattan federal court. According to Vila, Monse – which was launched to much fashion industry fury in 2016 by now-Oscar de la Renta creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia – “is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the photograph.” Although, the photo at issue did appear to have been licensed to Vogue to use on its site. 

More than that, the brand was not legally allowed to “falsify, remove and/or alter” the copyright management information, which identified Vila “as the photographer of the photograph.”

JULY 2019 – Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC v. Nicki Minaj, 2:19-cv-05822 (C.D.Cal.) 

In July, Splash News filed suit against “rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman, and entrepreneur” professionally known as Nicki Minaj” for allegedly “copying” seven different photos – including ones depicting her “in a multi-colored Oscar De La Renta gown outside of the Harper’s Bazaar Party in New York City,” “in a plaid Burberry outfit in New York City,” “at a NYFW party in New York,” and in “a cheetah print outfit” – which appear to have been licensed to and taken from the Daily Mail – and “distributed them” for display to her 91 million Instagram followers.  

The well-known photo agency claims that the photos at issue “are creative, distinctive, and valuable,” and because of Minaj’s “celebrity status, [as well as] the photographs’ quality and visual appeal,” Splash News and the photographer it represents “stood to gain revenue from licensing” them. However, Minaj’s unauthorized use of the photos “made them immediately available to [her] 91 million followers and others, consumers of entertainment news … who would otherwise be interested in viewing licensed versions of the photographs in the magazines and newspapers that are [Splash News’] customers.” As a result, Minaj directly impaired “the existing and future market for the original photos.”

JULY 2019 – Vila v. Alison Lou LLC, 1:19-cv-06634 (SDNY) 

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Carlos Vila, a professional photographer, sued celebrity-favored jewelry company Alison Loufor copyright infringement. According to Vila’s complaint, which was filed in a New York federal court in July, Alison Lou – whose Instagram includes a running series of stories called page “Loucitings,” in which it documents sighting of celebrities and influencers wearing its jewelry – postedaphotograph he took featuringmodel Emily Ratajkowski in a pair of its earrings. 

“Alison Lou did not license the photographs from [Mr. Vila] for its Instagram Story, nor did Alison Lou have [his] permission or consent to publish the photographs on its Instagram Story,” the complaint asserts. 

JULY 2019 – Barbera v. Christian Siriano Holdings LLC, 1:19-cv-06155 (SDNY) 

A photo of Lady Gaga from May 2018 has landed Christian Siriano in hot water. The musician-slash-Oscar winner stepped out in New York City in a striking crimson frock from the designer’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection to much media fanfare and paparazzi attention. One of the photographers who captured an image of Gaga, Robert Barbera, who asserts in his lawsuit that Christian Siriano posted the image on its Instagram without licensing the photo or otherwise seeking and receiving his authorization to do so. 

JULY 2019 – Peterson v. Frame LA Brands, LLC, 1:19-cv-06583 (SDNY) 

Photographer Christopher Peterson filed suit against Frame LA in a New York federal court in July, accusing the Los Angeles-based brand of copyright infringement in connection with a photo of Karlie Kloss. According to Peterson’s complaint, he took photos of the model while out in New York City in March that he licensed to the Daily Mail, which ran them alongside an caption noting that she was “a black leather blazer from FRAME over an off-white button-down top with a black pencil skirt, dark pantyhose and black heels.”

However, unlike the Daily Mail, which paid Peterson to use the imagery, Frame LA posted the images of Kloss as part of an Instagram “without a license”and without his “permission or consent” as a “tool to promote and sell its products,” thereby running afoul of copyright law. 

JULY 2019 – BackGrid USA, Inc v. Citizens of Humanity, LLC, 2:19-cv-06078 (C.D. Cal.)

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BackGrid – one of Hollywood’s largest celebrity photograph agencies, which “owns the copyrights to [millions of] in-demand celebrity photographs – filed suit against Citizens of Humanity in a California federal court, accusing the denim-maker and its brand AGOLDE of posting images of Sofia Richie, Jessica Biel, Zayn Malik, and Caitlyn and Kendall Jenner without its authorization. 

According to Backgrid’s complaint, which was filed in mid-July, while each of the licenses it grants to “top-tier outlets, such as TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, New York Post, People Magazine, Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, as well as many television stations, newspapers and other prominent media outlets throughout the world,” is worth “up to hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Citizens of Humanity posted at least 4 of its images “on various media outlets including Twitter and Instagram to promote their clothing items” without licensing them. 

JULY 2019 – Peterson v. Marc Jacobs International, 1:19-cv-06121 (SDNY) 

Marc Jacobs is being sued by photographer Christopher Peterson for posting one of his photos to its Instagram without licensing the photo or receiving permission from the professional photographer. According to the complaint that he filed against the New York-based brand in New York federal court on July 1, Peterson claims that he took a photo of supermodel Bella Hadid – in a Marc Jacobs sweatshirt – and her boyfriend The Weeknd in New York in January, only to have Marc Jacobs post the copyright-protected image to its Instagram account the very next day. 

Peterson asserts that while he licensed the photo to the Daily Mail, which “ran an article that featured the photograph,” he did not license it to Marc Jacobs. Yet, he claims that the LVMH-owned brand posted the image on its heavily-followed Instagram account “to promote Marc Jacobs clothing,” namely, the sweatshirt that Hadid was wearing, which was on sale at the time, and was sure to “crop off the watermark [stating, ‘Christopher Peterson’].” 

MAY 2019 – Barbera v. Ariana Grande and Grandari, Inc., 1:19-cv-04349 (SDNY)

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Robert Barbera is taking on Ariana Grande. According to the Splash News photographer’s suit, which was filed in a New York federal court, he “photographed singer, songwriter and actress Adriana Grande,” who turned around and posted two of the photos on her Instagram account this summer to promote the release of her “Sweetener” album without his authorization.  

Just a couple of months after it was filed, the case was settled out of court in mid-July.

MAY 2019 – Barbera v. CBS Interactive, Inc., 1:19-cv-04298 (SDNY) 

Photographer Robert Barbera, who has been on a litigation spree as of late, filed a copyright infringement against CBS, alleging that the media giant infringed his rights in a photo of Justin Bieber by “reproducing and publicly displaying it” in an article documenting the “most liked Instagram pics” on March 13. According to Barbera, “CBS did not license the photograph from [him]” for its article, “nor did CBS have [his] permission or consent to publish the photograph on its website.” 

APRIL 2019 – Barbera v. Versace USA, Inc., 1:19-cv-03563 (SDNY)

Versace is being sued over photos of Jennifer Lopez. The American arm of the famed Italian design house has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit for posting two photos on its highly-followed Instagram account of the musician-slash- actress in head-to-toe Versace at an MTV Video Music Awards after party this summer without licensing the photos or otherwise seeking and receiving photographer Robert Barbera’s authorization to do so. 

According to Barbera’s complaint, which was filed in a New York federal court in April, Versace “willfully, intentionally, and purposefully, in disregard of and indifference to [his] rights … infringed [his] copyright in the photographs by reproducing and publicly displaying [them] on [Instagram].” As it turns out, “Versace is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the photographs” of Lopez, a longtime friend of the brand, who made headlines after attending the Grammy Awards in February 2000 in a plunging green Versace silk chiffon dress. 

MARCH 2019 – BackGrid USA, Inc. v. Fashion Nova, Inc., 2:19-cv-01476 (C.D.Cal.) 

According to BackGrid’s complaint, which was filed in a California federal court in March, it is in the business of licensing its copyright-protected photos of well-known celebrities to other outlets in furtherance of deals that are worth “up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Despite using BackGrid’s images of Kourtney Kardashian, Blac Chyna, Amber Rose, and 21 Savage on its site, BackGrid asserts that Fashion Nova never licensed or received its authorization, and instead, opted to simply “appropriate [the copyrighted images] for itself.” 

JANUARY 2019 – Xclusive-Lee, Inc., v. Jelena Noura “Gigi” Hadid, 1:19-cv-00520 (EDNY) 

Supermodel Gigi Hadid was sued for a second time in federal court in Brooklyn, New York in January 2019. According to Xclusive-Lee’s complaint, Hadid “copied and posted” one of its photos of her to her Instagram “without license or permission from Xclusive,” prompting the photo agency to file – and ultimately, lose – a copyright infringement suit.   

Hadid ultimately prevail when the court dismissed the case, finding that Xclusive-Lee had not registered the photo at issue before filing suit.

FEBRUARY 2018 – Odell Beckham Jr v. Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC and Miles Diggs, 2:18-cv-01001 (E.D. La.)

In a role reversal, football star Odell Beckham Jr., filed suit against photographer Miles Diggs and California-based Splash News & Picture Agency for allegedly attempting to “extort” him into paying $40,000 after he posted a photo of himself on his Instagram account. “The audacity of Splash News to demand payment from Beckham – the very person who provided value to the Photos – is shocking, reeks of bad faith, and emphasizes the utterly troll-ish behavior of Diggs and Splash,” the complaint asserted. 

Beckham alleged that Diggs sold or licensed the images to Splash, which then licensed them to a variety of gossip websites, including TMZ, and DailyMail.com, in exchange for a royalty fee. However, “The only reason that the photos have any value is because they depict Beckham,” according to the complaint. “Yet, Beckham received no compensation from Diggs or Splash.”

That case ultimately settled out of court in February 2019. 

JANUARY 2018 – Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC, v. Jessica Simpson, et al, 2:17-cv-00591 (C.D.Cal.) 

According to Splash News’ complaint, which was filed in federal court in California, Simpson “or someone acting on her behalf” took a copyright protected photo from the Daily Mail’s website and published it on Simpson’s social media accounts. While Splash News alleges that the Daily Mail obtained a limited license to publish the photo online in August, Simpson, herself, did not receive authorization to post the photo.

That case ultimately settled out of court in March 2018. 

SEPTEMBER 2017 – Cepeda v. Jelena Noura “Gigi” Hadid and IMG Worldwide, Inc., 1:17-cv-00989 (E.D. Va.)

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Gigi Hadid was slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit after posting a photo of herself on her Instagram and Twitter accounts last summer. According to a the suit filed by photographer Peter Cepeda in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the famous model posted a photo of herself – which Cepeda took and in which he holds exclusive rights – amounting to an “act of infringement [that] was willful and intentional, in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of Cepeda.”

That case ultimately settled out of court in December 2017. 

APRIL 2017 – Xposure Photos UK Ltd. v. Khloe Kardashian et al, 2:17-cv-03088 (C.D.Cal.) 

Khloe Kardashian made headlines in April 2017 when she was sued by Xposure Photos for posting a photo of herself on her Instagram account last fall. According to its suit, Xposure claimed that the reality television star ran afoul of federal copyright law by posting a photo of herself “going for a meal at David Grutman’s Miami restaurant, Komodo” without licensing the photo from Xposure, the copyright holder.

Following mediation, that case settled in February 2018, with Kardashian later saying that she “had to pay a lot” in connection with the settlement. 

In the summer of 2011, a brilliantly bright red Birkin bag was being crafted in a workshop in France. Despite lingering economic woes in the United States following the depths of the Great Recession two years prior, and volatility in the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and China, all of which had “spooked investors and economists, alike,” the demand for Hermès’ most expensive – and recognizable – bags remained unwavering. This particular blood-hued bag was among the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of handbags that were being manufactured in little-known workshops on the outskirts of Paris in order to meet the incessant demand of deep-pocketed devotees.

Finished with a small gold stamp on the front that read “Hermès Paris Made in France” and packaged in one of Hermès’ signature orange boxes, the ones that the 183-year old brand has been using for more than a half-a-century, the Shiny Porosus Crocodile Birkin – a bag that would sell for upwards of $75,000 at retail – was destined for a blissful consumer, an individual almost certainly unaffected by the financial turmoil that was permeating markets across the globe. The problem: the bag that was being assembled that day was anything but the real thing. Despite its lookalike packaging and seemingly high quality materials, this bag was the product of a sophisticated $22 million-plus counterfeit operation that was being carried out in France, right under the nose of the Hermès, the closely-guarded stalwart luxury brand known for its meticulously-crafted leather goods, silk scarves, and saddlery.

While Hermès was working to carefully balance its own supply against the intense and unwavering yearning for its most coveted bags among well to-do consumers from women in sunny Southern California to their counterparts some 6,500 miles away in Shanghai and trying to keep takeover bids by aggressive fashion conglomerates at bay, more than a dozen people were laboring diligently to build and maintain a small-but-mighty counterfeiting ring. In clandestine workshops not far from Hermès’ own workshops, they were producing bags that to even some of the more discerning Hermès collectors looked – and felt – real.

Unlike the cheaply-made, obviously-counterfeit bags – with their plastic-y “leather” bodies, imprecise stitching, and off-kilter Hermès stamps – that are regularly churned out in factories in China and other far-flung locales and sold for cheap on Amazon and in stalls that populate seedy flea markets, these bags were different. In fact, these bags were made in France and as the story goes, at least a portion of the materials being used to craft them were coming directly from bona fide Hermès workshops.

Maybe most critically, as Hermès would later learn, several of its own employees were intimately involved in the budding criminal enterprise, providing those authentic materials and overseeing the manufacturing of the eye-poppingly expensive handbags. The result came in the form of counterfeit Hermès bags of almost unprecedented quality.

This specific ring fit neatly into a much larger pattern of counterfeiting, a sizable and long-standing business in France, with roots that date back to the days of the earliest-operating couture houses in Paris. As the heart of the global fashion market, France’s well-established luxury industry has routinely been plagued by intellectual property crime, and Hermès – which is the name found on some of the most famous and in-demand handbags in the entire world – has routinely been among those hit the hardest.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Hermès’ longtime former CEO Patrick Thomas said in 2012, revealing that some “80 percent of objects sold on the Internet under the Hermès names are counterfeit.”

As of that same year, the shadowy trade in infringing goods was costing the French economy as a whole a whopping $7.5 billion in lost revenue per annum (that the government knew of), a number that had been growing steadily over the years, and which was only expected to increase as time went on. However, not only has the dollar-figure associated with the fake trade been escalating, the sophistication of the players and their global counterfeiting operations has been advancing significantly, as well. With that in mind, industry insiders, trade organizations, and law enforcement officials have been paying attention for decades – watching the risks to their own interests rise.

“When counterfeiting was artisanal, it didn’t bother us much,” Adrian de Flers, the head of Comité Colbert, the French luxury goods association, said in back in the 1980s. With the broadening scope of counterfeiting, facilitated in large part by widespread technological advances, and the unending demand for less bank-breaking alternatives, “it’s become an industrial practice, and we’re frankly very worried.”

So, beginning in the mid-2000s, Comité Colbert joined brands in working overtime to stomp out the latest wave of counterfeiting, which was negatively impacting 8 out of 10 European businesses, according to its research. This included educating consumers about the dangers associated with fakes. The summer of 2012, for example, brought the introduction of a new effort by the Comité. In furtherance of a collaboration with Cartier, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Louis Vuitton, among other brands, the Comité plastered France’s 18 airports with 10,000 posters aimed at raising awareness about counterfeiting.

“Buy a fake Cartier, get a genuine criminal record,” read one poster, a reference to the ability of prosecutors to levy fines of up to $300,000 and even jail sentences in connection with the manufacture, sale, and even the purchase of fakes, as under French law it is not only illegal to make and sell counterfeit goods, it is also a criminal offense to buy them. (No such equivalent exists in the United States). Another poster, adorned with a patent Cannage Lady Dior bag, declared, “Real ladies don’t like fake.”

These efforts – which were backed by the Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes, the French law enforcement agency responsible for investigating counterfeiting – did little to deter those working stealthily to churn out relatively sophisticated, precious-skinned Hermès counterfeits, of course.

Evidence of Abnormal Behavior

Faced with evidence of “abnormal behavior identified through [its] internal monitoring systems,” Hermès had begun to suspect that things were not quite right under its own roof. Armed with such “clues,” Hermès took its findings to French law enforcement and filed a complaint. It was 2011. A year later, inside a police station in Paris, law enforcement officials were trying to get to the heart of what would ultimately reveal to be a very close-to-home scheme that was bringing millions of dollars of counterfeit Hermès bags to market.

In the time that had passed since Hermès had first filed its complaint, a new collaboration had been born: a joint effort between the brand and French law enforcement, one that would ultimately spawn a year-long investigative partnership between the two entities.

After months of following leads, engaging in surveillance, and tracing the orange Hermès-branded boxes – and even some Hermès leather and hardware – back to the brand (by way of at least two rogue Hermès employees), a big break would come in the late spring of 2012. News outlets worldwide were reporting in June that a dozen people had been arrested by French police as part of the dismantling of an international crime ring that was peddling high quality counterfeit Hermès handbags. The expansiveness of the ring’s reach would stretch from Europe to the United States and all the way to East Asia. As far as French authorities knew, the national arm of the counterfeiting operation, alone, had brought in approximately $22 million.

On that same spring day, in another part of town, the two unnamed Hermès employees were simultaneously being let go from their jobs and arrested. The unnamed employees had been integral to the workings of the ring. Despite the two arrests, Hermès harbored suspicions that “several current members of staff could also be involved,” and vowed to continue its own internal probe.

A representative for the traditionally tight-lipped house, said that they were “very satisfied with the efficient and diligent collaboration established with the national gendarmerie in this case and reiterates its relentless commitment to fighting counterfeiting. This action puts an end to the fraudulent project in progress.”

The news of the arrests and the allegedly unparalleled quality of the fake bags made headlines across the globe, prompting luxury handbag resellers, and certain consumers, alike, to question the nature of their own bags. One established resale company told TFL years later that they stopped accepting Birkin bags at the time, a risk management tactic of sorts in light of the sweeping uncertainty about the bags that were currently floating around in the market and in at least some cases, being offered up for resale. At the same time, they simultaneously triple-checked the authenticity of the bags they already had in stock.

Meanwhile, as part of a larger, global – and resource-intensive – effort by Hermès to get a handle on the growing counterfeit market, in which its instantly-identifiable bags are some of the hottest commodities, a federal judge in New York was deciding an unrelated case that Hermès’ legal team had filed against dozens of online sellers, which they accused of hawking fakes. In siding with the Paris-based brand, Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the operators of 34 different websites to pay $100 million, and asserting that “collectively, they had sold and offered for sale at least nine distinct types of goods” – from Birkin bags to silk scarves – “each bearing numerous counterfeits of the Hermès trademarks and designs.”

In reality, Hermès would see very little – if any – of that $100 million money, as none of the defendants could be identified beyond the domain names they were using to hawk the fakes (such as HermesBagsOutlet.org, HermesBirkin-Bags.org, and HermesOutletStore.com, among others) and none of them responded to the counterfeit-focused suit lodged by Hermès, and certainly did not appear in court to defend themselves against the claims. The only monetary remedy that Hermès would get would be any money in the PayPal accounts that were linked to the defendants’ domains.

A Push for Jail Time

Fast forward to late June 2020 and nearly a dozen individuals appeared in a French court for a trial in connection with that now-notorious counterfeiting ring. Prosecutors set the stage before Paris’ Criminal Court, detailing the workings of headline-making operation eight years after local law enforcement first arrested more than a dozen people and broke up the internationally-reaching crime ring. Among the ten defendants being tried in the counterfeiting-centric case were seven former Hermès employees, who were not only embroiled in intellectual property infringement charges in connection with the manufacture and sale of fake bags. They were also on the hook for criminal breach of trust (abus de confiance), a French cause of action that arises from the misappropriation/misuse of company funds or property. 

The breach of trust claims provided a striking look into the heart of the secretive operation, one that saw then-current Hermès employees, including “leatherworkers, artisan cutters or assemblers at Hermès” steal authentic packaging, raw materials, and tools – from orange Hermès-branded boxes to Hermès leather and hardware – from Hermès’ factories in order to produce and sell high-quality fakes of their own. The result was bags that bore price tags of upwards of 23,500 euros ($26,351 at current exchange rates).

“Prosecutors stated in court that three friends” were at the center of the scheme to manufacture and sell the black market designer bags, “two of whom had worked at Hermès, while the third dealt with the imports of crocodile skins from Lombardy in Italy, from which the [counterfeit bags] were made,” French24 reported in June 2020. “Five other people, who [had also been employed by Hermès] appeared in court, as well: one had provided [hardware] to decorate the bags and the other four were leather workers, who assembled the bags by incorporating hand-stitching saddle-emblematic of the company.”

In connection with the breach of trust charges, alone, which the French penal code states is “committed when a person, to the prejudice of other persons, misappropriates funds, valuables or any property that were handed over to him and that he accepted subject to the condition of returning, redelivering or using them in a specified way,” the defendants faced up to seven years’ imprisonment and fines of up to 750,000 euro each. Prosecutors were pushing for jail time.

According to prosecutors, the small-but-mighty French operation – which “targeted Asian tourists in Paris but also had clients in Hong Kong”  was uncovered after French police wiretapped the home of a man suspected of selling authentic – but stolen – Hermès bags in Asia. In addition to purely counterfeit bags, WWD reported that the ring also resold bags “created under the ‘bon au personnel’ provision, which allows Hermès employees to acquire the elements and make their own bags, identified by a shooting star stamp” – albeit in a strict “for personal use” capacity.  

On the final day of the three-day trial, a number of the defendants expressed their apologies to Hermès. They had been proud to work for the company, and expressed regret for “betraying the trust” of their former employer. Meanwhile, their lawyers, arguing in their defense, attempted to chip away at Hermès’ argument about the damage that it was subjected to as a result of the counterfeiting scheme. “Counsels for the defense argued against the validity of the prejudice incurred by the company, both from a financial point of view by questioning the exchange rate and a 70 percent profit margin mentioned by the plaintiffs, as well as in reputation, hinting at a supposed gain in brand equity due to the proceedings,” WWD stated at the time.

Among the other arguments lodged in favor of the defendants? A challenge to the protectability of the Birkin, and thus, the strength of the brand’s counterfeiting charges. Alexandre Lazarègue, a lawyer representing one of the alleged ringleaders, argued that “Hermès could not identify what constituted the originality of the Birkin bag,” a bag that is “based on an early 20th-century model itself inspired by transport satchels used by gauchos.”

Three months after the close of the trial, the court handed down its sentencing. According to a report from Agence France-Presse on September 25, 2020, punishments for the various defendants – all of whom were criminally charged – range from six months of  suspended jail time to three-year sentences, with the most severe penalty going to the “ringleader,” who was tried by the French court despite not appearing or responding to the legal proceedings. (There is an active arrest warrant out for him). 

“Another ringleader was given an effective one-year sentence, to be served under house arrest, with two more years suspended and a fine of €100,000,” according to the AFP. At the same time, one of the other key members of the group, “a woman who was convicted of selling the bags to Asian buyers, was given a 30-month sentence with 20 months suspended,” all of which will be served under house arrest. 

As for Hermès, while the Paris-based luxury goods brand sought upwards of €2 million in damages in connection with the counterfeit scheme, the court awarded it €580,000.

*This article was initially published in April 2018 and has been updated accordingly.

In the $62.5 billion-plus global sneaker market, the competition is fierce, the costs associated with the intensive research and development that goes into designing and manufacturing footwear are high, and the revenues that can be generated from single styles can race past the $1 billion mark for standouts like Nike’s Flyknits styles or adidas’ Stan Smith and the Superstar models. This means that the stakes are high amongst the market’s key players, and the chance that litigation will play out among them is even higher.

Nike and adidas have long garnered headlines dedicated to their history of legal battles, centering on their respective knitted technologies, for instance, which spawned an international battle beginning at the very same time as the London Olympics in 2012, and while there is likely no end in sight to the fights that these two titans will wage against one another in their respective quests to outfit consumers across the globe (and boost revenues and profits in the process), another rivalry has been spilling over into the courts: Nike versus Skechers.

In the lawsuit that it filed against Skechers in a federal court in California in September, Beaverton, Oregon-headquartered Nike told the judge that the case was not the first of its kind, just as it was “not the first time Skechers has infringed its intellectual property rights.” Accusing Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers of copying a number of its sneaker designs and thereby, infringing two of its utility patents, counsel for Nike said that the case is actually “the fourth in a series of lawsuits that Nike, and its subsidiary Converse Inc., have filed against Skechers asserting a range of intellectual property rights.”

In filing suit against Skechers this fall, Nike has escalated another relatively recently-initiated fight against its Southern California-based rival, and added yet another matter to a larger – and clearly still growing – list of proceedings that Nike has said stem from Skechers’ larger pattern of allegedly “copying its competitors’ designs and using innovative technologies developed by others to gain market share instead of innovating its own designs and technologies.”

In Skechers’s mind, Nike’s most recent lawsuit is merely the latest attempt by the $150 billion-plus sportswear giant to “stifle competition” and “bully” its rivals. That is, after all, what Skechers asserted in the open letter that it posted to social media in the fall of 2019.

With such a budding legal battle at play, we have put together a timeline of their respective lawsuits – and other legal proceedings …

October 2014: Converse v. Skechers

Nike-owned Converse sued Skechers (and 30 or so other companies, including New Balance, Walmart and Ralph Lauren, among others, in individual cases) in federal court in Brooklyn, New York – in which it sought injunctive relief and monetary damages – and in an International Trade Commission (“ITC”) proceeding, seeking an order barring the defendants from importing the allegedly infringing footwear into the U.S. In both sets of cases, Converse alleged that the more than 2 dozen companies, including Skechers, were “mass-producing, distributing or selling sneakers that knock off the look of [its] iconic Chuck Taylor,” thereby running afoul of its trademark rights. As for Skechers, adidas claimed that the company’s Twinkle Toes and BOBS designs infringed its trademark – or more specifically, its trade dress – rights in various elements that make up the design of its famed Chuck Taylor sneakers, from its “distinctive” toe caps and toe bumpers to its striped midsoles.

While the majority of the footwear companies on the opposite end of adidas’ civil suits and the ITC proceeding have settled quietly, the matters against Skechers are still underway.

The case is Converse, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 1:14-cv-05977 (E.D.N.Y.)

January 2016: Nike v. Skechers

Nike Skechers sneakers
Nike knitted sneaker (left) & Skechers knitted sneaker (right)

In the patent infringement suit that it filed in federal court in Portland, Oregon in early 2016, Nike asserted that a number of Skechers’s footwear – including its “Burst, Women’s Flex Appeal, Men’s Flex Advantage, Girl’s Skech Appeal, and Boy’s Flex Advantage” shoe styles – infringe at least eight of its Flyknit-specific design patents given that the “overall appearance of the designs of the Nike patents and the corresponding designs of Skechers’ infringing shoes are substantially the same.”

According to its 14-page complaint, which was supplemented with nearly 200 pages of exhibits, counsel for Nike alleged that “Skechers intended to copy the designs covered by [its] patents” and did so to the point that “an ordinary observer would will perceive” the design of the two parties’ respective shoes to be the same. To prove its point, Nike cited an article from menswear site Complex, which “describes the Skechers’ Burst shoes as having ‘ripped off’ Nike’s ‘Flyknit’ design.’”

That case, which was transferred from a federal district court in Oregon to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in November 2017, is still underway, with Skechers filing its answer, as well as counterclaims of its own, early this year, asking the court to declare that it did not infringe Nike’s patents, and to declare that 12 of Nike’s patents are invalid “for failing to comply with the patent law provisions” of the Patent Act.

The case is Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 2:17-cv-08509 (C.D. Cal.).

April and May 2016: Skechers IPRs

In the wake of Nike’s design patent infringement lawsuit, Skechers retaliated against the Beaverton-based sportswear giant by filing inter partes review (“IPR”) petitions with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) in order to invalidate the eight design patents that Nike claims Skechers infringed in the aforementioned lawsuit. The basis for these filings? The individual patents do not meet the requirements for patentability (i.e., the inventions are not novel and/or non-obviousness).

In September and November 2016, the PTAB – which has the ability to refuse to institute an IPR proceeding if it finds that the challenger’s request lacks substantive merit – denied each of Skechers petitions, including one that pointed to Italian fashion brand Missoni’s zig-zag print designs, which date back to the 1950s, as existing long before Nike created its Flyknit designs and filed its corresponding patent applications, making it so that Nike’s knit-centric creations are not all that novel. (Novelty is a critical requirement for patent protection).

January 2017: Skechers IPRs

Skechers filed several additional IPR petitions, including ones challenging Nike’s design patent-protected knitted “shoe uppers.” This time around, while the PTAB again refused the majority of Skechers’ petitions, it agreed to consider two of them, both of focused on the validity of Nike’s design patents for sneaker soles (D723,781 and D723,783). Skechers claimed that the two “shoe sole” patents were invalid because they were “obvious” as a result of Nike’s own prior filings, including a European Community Design registration and two previously-filed utility patent applications. In June 2018, a 3-judge panel for the PTAB rejected Skechers invalidity challenges and upheld the validity of Nike’s patents.

September 2019: Nike v. Skechers

Nike Skechers sneakers
image via complaint

In a design patent infringement complaint filed in the fall, Nike upped the ante on the parties’ existing fight, and called foul on Skechers’ continued practice of allegedly manufacturing “Skecherized versions” of Nike sneakers, including blatant replicas of its VaporMax and Air Max 270 designs, paying specific attention to its rival’s alleged hijacking of its Air Sole technology, which Nike says that it spent decades creating.

According to its 37-page complaint, which was filed on September 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Nike alleges that in selling its Skech-Air Atlas, Skech-Air 92, Skech-Air Stratus, and the Skech-Air Blast models, among others, Skechers has “made, used, offered for sale, sold, and/or imported into the U.S.” shoes that have “the same overall appearance [as those protected by its] VaporMax patents,” and that infringe the some of the patents it holds for its Air Max 270 designs.

Skechers’ allegedly infringing sneakers “are substantially the same” as Nike’s patent-protected sneakers, the footwear titan asserts, so much so that “an ordinary observer will perceive the overall appearance of … the VaporMax [and the Air Max 270] shoes and the corresponding designs of the [Skechers] shoes” to be virtually the same.

In its January 7, 2020 response to Nike’s suit, Skechers denies that it has infringed Nike’s patents and asserts that even if it did, Nike’s patents are invalid, and thus, unenforceable. In counterclaims of its own, Skechers is seeking a formal judgment from the court declaring that the patents that Nike cites in its complaint are invalid and that it has not infringed the patents at issue.

The case is Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 2:19-cv-08418 (C.D.Cal.)

October 2019: Nike v. Skechers

In a separate patent lawsuit that it filed against Skechers just weeks later, Nike claims that Skechers is also on the hook for infringing two of its utility patents. According to Nike, Skechers’ Skech-Air Jumpin’ Dots and Skech-Air Mega shoes infringe claims contained in two of its utility patents – one that protects “an article of footwear” with an emphasis on the cushioning cavity that exists in the midsole of the shoe (Patent No. 10,098,412), and another that covers the “sole component [of a sneaker] and a method of manufacturing the sole component” (Patent No. 7,401,420).

“Without Nike’s authorization, Skechers has made, used, offered for sale, sold, and/or imported into the U.S.” shoes that infringe a number of claims protected by the 412 and 420 patents, according to Nike, as they include the same “sole structure incorporating a fluid-filled bladder and a reinforcing structure secured to the bladder,” “a cavity disposed between the upper and the outsole,” and a “plurality of protrusions [that] progressively decrease in height from the first protrusion to the forward-most edge of the article of footwear,” among other things.

The case is Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 2:19-cv-09230 (C.D.Cal.)

UPDATED (Nov. 30, 2021): On the heels of mediation, Nike and Skechers jointly to dismiss three cases (2:19-cv-09230, 2:17-cv-08509, and 2:17-cv-08509).

*This article was initially published in January 24, 2020.

For decades, Walmart solidly held the title of the largest retailer in the world. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based multinational corporation’s competition trailed far behind, and as a result, the now 58-year old titan could afford to focus almost exclusively on its roots as a big-box retail chain, selling low-priced staples, such as laundry detergent, paper towels, bottled water, groceries, and even apparel basics and electronics, in all 50 states and beyond. Despite generating $514.4 billion in revenue in 2019 and boasting a market capitalization of more than $405 billion, Walmart has fallen short where its fast-growing rival, Amazon, has made its name: online.

After bypassing most retailers, with its convenient 2-day shipping and low, low prices, Amazon – and its $280.5 billion in annual revenue as of 2019 – has been moving aggressively to rival Walmart on Walmart’s own turf. While Amazon is not building sprawling brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S., as Walmart has done (the Walmart chain consists of nearly 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., and almost 7,000 international outposts), it is looking to chip away at Walmart’s lead by offering up (including by way of its margin-happy private labels) the every-day household products – and groceries that have helped turn Walmart into the retail market’s biggest behemoth. 

Initially under the watch of Joel Anderson – who, in his role as CEO of Walmart.com U.S. in 2012, that “the next 25 years [for Walmart] are about becoming a digital company” – and more recently, at the direction of Jet.com founder Marc Lore, who took the role of CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce operations in 2016, Walmart has been on an e-commerce acquisition spree. Its goal? Well, it is clearly trying to keep up with Amazon on the digital front. 

But beyond that, Walmart is seemingly trying to make a name of its own in the online retail space, where new generations of consumers are already accustomed to looking for everything from food to footwear. In this way, Walmart is not merely looking to keep pace with Amazon, it is looking to stay in stride with digitally-connected consumers, all while endeavoring to amass a larger piece of the mainstream apparel market. With that in mind, here is a timeline of some of Walmart’s retail-related acquisitions and notable partnerships …

October 2021: Free Assembly

Walmart seems to be banking on younger consumers (or better yet, their millennial parents) in order to further grab market share in the apparel segment. Following an announcement in July that it would bring formerly shuttered tween fashion brand Justice to its e-commerce site and select stores (Justice has been dormant since the 2020 bankruptcy of previous owner Ascena Retail Group), the retail titan revealed the launch of Free Assembly, a collection of kids’ apparel meant to “seamlessly complement our adult collection” of apparel, per Deanah Baker, who is the SVP of Men’s, Kids, and Shoes for Walmart U.S.

Denise Incandela, SVP of Women’s, stated this week that the launch of Free Assembly is the latest push towards “establishing Walmart as a fashion destination,” which she says the retailer is “serious about,” as indicated by its “ongoing strategy of expanding our assortment for our customers.”

May 2021: Zeekit

In a further push to digital, Walmart announced that it will acquire virtual fitting room start-up Zeekit. While the terms of the deal have remained under wraps, Denise Incandela, EVP of Apparel and Private Brands at Walmart U.S. stated that “over the last few years, we have been working hard to expand our apparel assortment to include quality, on-trend and accessible fashion to help customers outfit their closets no matter their personal style or budget, but, in an increasingly online-driven category, customers not only want variety in styles, but also an inspiring and personalized digital experience that makes shopping for apparel easy, fun and social.” With that in mind, Incandela said that “virtual try-on is a game-changer and solves what has historically been one of the most difficult things to replicate online — understanding fit and how an item will actually look on you.”

CNBC reports that when Zeekit’s technology launches on Walmart’s website, “Customers will be able to upload photos of themselves or choose from different models that represent their height, shape and skin tone, [and] the technology will show how the clothing would fit and resemble the experience they have at a store.”

March 2021: Brandon Maxwell

Not an acquisition but a noteworthy development, nonetheless, Walmart revealed on March 16 that it has enlisted celebrity-favored designer Brandon Maxwell to design the wares from its Free Assembly and Scoop brands, potentially upping the ante quite a bit for its in-house apparel lines. Former Project Runway judge and favorite of Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, Maxwell “will be responsible for designing and helping with sourcing, marketing and production,” Reuters reported, noting that the beloved designer “will oversee four collections annually for the two brands, starting with helping with this year’s important holiday season wardrobe before his full collections drop in spring 2022.”

September 2020: Free Assembly

“Walmart is doubling down on its expansion into fashion with a new casual clothing line for men and women called Free Assembly,” according to CNBC. By way of the new private label, which consists of 30 items for women and 25 items for men, all priced between $9 and $45, and is shoppable online and in some 250 Walmart brick-and-mortar stores, Walmart is “hoping to appeal to shoppers who want style and value,” particularly in light of a marked rise in e-commerce reliance for everything from groceries and home goods to apparel and luxury goods in the wake of COVID-19. 

In a statement on September 21, Denise Incandela, Walmart’sSVP Women’s Group, Elevated and Online Brands, said, “Through our ongoing strategy of expanding our assortment for our customers, we’ve shown that we’re serious about establishing Walmart as a fashion destination. And, now we’re doubling-down to offer customers something they couldn’t find at Walmart before – a fashion essentials-inspired brand for both men and women created by our in-house design team.” 

While the global health pandemic continues to present Walmart with an opportunity to grow its apparel business as website traffic and e-commerce sales continue to thrive, CNBC aptly notes that the big box chain “must still prove its ability to navigate the world of fashion, where trends come and go and consumers can be fickle about sizing, fit and quality.”

May 2020: ThredUp

Seeking to get into the burgeoning resale market, Walmart announced that it will partner with ThredUp, a secondhand apparel and accessories company, in furtherance of an alliance that will enable consumers “to find nearly 750,000 pre-owned items across women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, footwear and handbags” on Walmart’s website, with “the added benefit of Walmart’s free shipping threshold on orders of $35 or more and free returns to Walmart stores or thredUP.”

“We are excited to join forces with Walmart to power a sustainable, secondhand shopping experience unlike any other,” Jenn Volk, Director of Product Management at thredUP said in a statement. “From Calvin Klein and Nike to Coach and Michael Kors, this digital partnership enhances Walmart’s fashion offering with fresh brands at amazing prices that their customers will love.”

The move by Walmart to further expand its online fashion assortment beyond the “nearly 1,000 brands, including national brands like Champion, Jordache and Levi Strauss” that the retail giant says are part of its lineup comes “at a time when it could grab more market share in apparel and accessories,” per CNBC. “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated challenges for clothing retailers,” but Walmart, which “dominates the grocery business while still lagging in fashion despite its efforts,” has benefited from a surge in online shopping for groceries and household product. Walmart hopes to sell those shoppers apparel, as well.

September 2019: Scoop NYC

In its latest move, Walmart is relaunching defunct New York fashion outpost Scoop NYC by way of its website and select Walmart stores. Walmart’s announcement comes three years after Scoop, which was celebrated as helping to launch brands like Rag & Bone and Alice + Olivia in their early days, shuttered all 16 of its stores in a larger liquidation effort after two decades in business. As CNBC reports, “Now, in a bid to build itself as a bigger fashion destination, Walmart has attained the rights to the Scoop name and is relaunching the brand — but at more affordable price points.”

Walmart plans to offer up more than 100 Scoop-specific garments – from “$15 Scoop graphic tees to $65 coats,” per CNBC, as well as footwear and handbags, online beginning on Monday, September 16.

December 2018: Art.com

To close out the year, Walmart has acquired online retailer Art.com for an undisclosed amount to boost its home decor business and expand its online offering, as part of the retailer’s efforts to attract more millennials. Per Reuters, the deal falls neatly within Walmart’s practice of “buying up small online retailers for more than two years in an attempt to reach younger customers who do not normally shop on its website, and recover ground lost to competitors like Amazon.com Inc. “

October 2018: Bare Necessities

Walmart acquired online lingerie retailer Bare Necessities for an undisclosed amount. Bringing Bare Necessities – which currently offers more than 160 brands with wares including underwear, swimwear, shapewear and sleepwear – under the Walmart umbrella “fits well into our broader acquisition strategy, which includes two different types of companies: category leaders and digital brands that offer unique products,” Denise Incandela, head of fashion, Walmart U.S. e-commerce, said in a blog post.

October 2018: ELOQUII

Walmart announced plans to acquire digitally native, women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII. Walmart has not disclosed the size of the deal, but confirmed that it is larger than its ModCloth acquisition ($75 million) but smaller than Bonobos ($310 million). According to TechCrunch, ELOQUII – which is particularly attractive to Walmart as the $21 billion women’s plus-size fashion market continues to exhibit rapid growth – joins Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce organization, under Andy Dunn, SVP of Digital Consumer Brands.

“ELOQUII is another means for the retailer to reach a segment of online consumers who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise considered shopping Walmart,” TechCrunch asserted in connection with the deal.

September 2018: Cornershop

In another move in furtherance of international expansion, Walmart acquired the crowdsourced, on-demand delivery marketplace Cornershop for $225 million. The “digital expertise, technology and capabilities” of the fast-growing supermarkets, pharmacies and specialty food delivery service, which operates in Mexico and Chile, “will strengthen our successful businesses in Mexico and Chile and provide learning for other markets in which we operate,” Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, said in a statement.

“This is an opportunity to leverage both of our brands, as well as Walmart’s strong supply chain and store network,” she further noted.

May 2018: Flipkart

With a $16 billion investment, Walmart became the majority owner of Indian e-commerce company Flipkart in a deal that Bloomberg has called “an enormous bet by the American retailer on international expansion.” The Flipkart acquisition sees Walmart secure ownership of India’s top e-commerce player, with Flipkart commanding higher traffic and revenue than Amazon in the country, which boasts more than 1.3 billion people, strong GDP growth, a growing middle class and significant opportunities for e-commerce and m-commerce penetration.

October 2017: Parcel

In one of its smaller-scale deals, Walmart took a majority stake – worth an estimated $10 million – in Brooklyn, New York-based startup Parcel, which will help Walmart.com and Walmart-owned Jet.com to offer same-day delivery to customers in New York City. Parcel, which was founded in 2013, currently handles scheduled and same-day delivery services in New York for online retailers, such as Bonobos, which Walmart acquired in June 2017.

According to recode, “The deal comes as more shoppers expect to have the option for same-day delivery when placing online orders, especially when buying consumable products that get everyday use. Not only does Amazon offer Prime members free two-hour delivery on a limited assortment of goods, it also lets these customers get same-day delivery for free on a catalog of more than a million products.”

June 2017: Bonobos

Walmart acquired direct-to-consumer premium menswear brand Bonobos in a $310 million deal, which sees the world’s largest physical retailer continue to build out its online retail fashion business in its bid to outpace Amazon.According to TechCrunch, “Rumors had been circulating of the deal between Bonobos and Walmart for a while, and as predicted, this in part is a way to bring Andy Dunn, who had founded and was leading Bonobos, into a wider leadership role at Walmart.” 

Dunn – who reports to Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce (who joined with the Jet.com acquisition) – will be “taking on a bigger and new role for us at e-commerce overseeing our digital vertical brands,” a Walmart spokesperson said at the time.

March 2017: ModCloth

Walmart acquired the assets and operations of ModCloth, which it described as “one of the top online specialty retailers of unique women’s fashion and accessories,” for price that is reportedly less than $50 million. The deal enables Walmart to continue to expand its online apparel offerings, with the giant stating in a release that “apparel and accessories is the No. 1 category for digital commerce, according to comScore, and [with the Modcloth acquisition] we gain the experience of a well-recognized specialty apparel e-commerce brand that’s trusted by millions of millennial women.”

February 2017: Moosejaw

Walmart announced that it would acquire Moosejaw, a leading outdoor retailer, for approximately $51 million. The Moosejaw deal was touted as a way to give Walmart an entry point into activewear, a consistently popular online retail category, with its offerings of 400 different brands, including Patagonia, The North Face, and ArcTeryx, among others.

January 2017: ShoeBuy

In a reported $70 million deal, Jet.com, through its parent Walmart, acquired ShoeBuy from IAC for approximately $70 million. According to Walmart, the acquisition of ShoeBuy – which carries more than 800 brands and over a million items including footwear for women, men and kids, as well as clothing and accessories, such as outerwear and handbags – will enable Jet.com to “gain the experience of a well-established ecommerce player in the footwear industry, who has transformed the online shopping experience for millions of customers.”

August 2016: Hayneedle

In addition to Jet.com, Walmart acquired Jet.com’s its home furnishings subsidiary Hayneedle, as well. (Jet.com had acquired Hayneedle in March 2016 for $90 million in order to “gain access to Hayneedle’s warehouses in Ohio and California, giving it more regional distribution centers to ship products,” per Forbes).

August 2016: Jet.com

Walmart acquired digital shopping site Jet.com for $3.3 billion, its first major digital M&A play. It has since revamped the site to target an affluent, younger crowd living in urban areas, such as New York City, with everything from apparel and accessories to groceries that can be delivered in 3 hours.

UPDATE: After announcing “a sweeping overhaul at Jet.com” in June 2019 after the online start-up “failed to live up to the world’s largest retailer’s e-commerce ambitions,” as Reuters put it at the time, Walmart announced in May 2020 that it would shutter the venture in its entirety. “While the brand name may still be used in the future, our resources, people and financials have been dominated by the Walmart brand because it has so much traction,” Walmart CEO Doug Mcmillan said in a statement. “We’re seeing the Walmart brand resonate regardless of income, geography or age.”

*This article was initially published in September 2018 and has been updated accordingly.