Sales for LVMH amounted to 64.2 billion euros ($71.55 billion) for the 2021 fiscal year, an increase of 44 percent compared to the year before and 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019, the French luxury goods group reported on Thursday. Organic revenue growth was up by 36 percent and 14 percent compared to 2020 and 2019, with the group saying that its performance for the year “confirms a return to strong growth momentum following the severe disruption to the first half of 2020 resulting from the global pandemic,” and noting that “within the context of a gradual recovery from the health crisis,” it is “confident in its ability to maintain its current growth momentum.”

Delving into the performance of Fashion & Leather Goods over the course of 2021, Bernard Arnault-led LVMH revealed that its largest division “reached record levels,” with revenues totaling 30.8 billion euros ($34.32 billion) for the year – up from 21.2 billion euros and 22.2 billion euros in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Operating margins were up for 2021, as well, totaling 41.6 percent (from 33.9 percent and 33 percent in 2020 and 2019). These results were helped along by a strong fourth quarter, according to the group.

Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Celine, and Loewe achieved “record levels of revenue and profitability,” while Marc Jacobs “also performed particularly well.” (The big name missing here is, of course, Givenchy.) Louis Vuitton and Dior, in particular, turned “an exceptional performance,” complete with enduring rises in profitability, which LVMH confirmed was “already at an exceptional level.” Specifically, Dior – which saw the success of its new Caro bag and its caning pattern, as well as strong demand for micro bags, and the launch of seasonal capsule collections – boasted “exceptional growth in all its product categories among local customers” over the course of the year. Meanwhile, demand for Louis Vuitton was driven by its “reinvention of iconic models,” along with new artistic collaborations.

Speaking of local customers, LVMH management stated during a post-release call with analysts that local customers “are getting more selective in terms of brand choice,” with the group attracting new local customers in Europe to compensate for the lack of Asian tourists. Also worth noting: LVMH management stated that under the watch of creative director Hedi Slimane and CEO Séverine Merle, Celine has one of the fastest growth rates in the industry.

In terms of Fashion & Leather Goods sales by region, LVMH said that sales in the United States and Asia – which account for the majority of revenue – rose “sharply” in 2021, followed by Europe, finally returned to growth in Q4 compared to 2019, and Japan “with more limited growth.” 

Turning to the Watches & Jewelry division, LVMH saw “a strong rebound of activity in own stores and the successful integration of Tiffany & Co.,” which helped to send revenues up by 167 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, and boosted profits from recurring operations almost six times compared to 2020 and up 128 percent compared to 2019. The division generated the bulk of its sales in Asia (excluding Japan) and the U.S., which LVMH says are “the best performing regions.” Tiffany, alone, saw “record performance in terms of revenue, profits and cash flow, and increased its global attractivity as a result of its high impact innovations and collaborations” during its first year under the LVMH umbrella. The New York-headquartered brand – which benefitted from “strong interest” in its Knot collection, and the rapid development of iconic lines T and HardWear – was also responsible for “increased intangible assets” and “increased inventories” for the division.

Elsewhere in the group, the U.S. was responsible for the greatest increase in Perfumes & Cosmetics sales, which grew by 27 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. LVMH specifically highlighted the “enormous success” of Dior’s Miss Dior and Sauvage fragrancesnoting that in 2021, Sauvage became the highest selling fragrance in the world (women’s and men’s lines, included), which is “a worldwide first for a male fragrance.” 

Selective Retailing, the division that houses the likes of Sephora and duty-free venture DFS, saw organic revenue rise by 18 percent compared to 2020 but was nonetheless, down by 18 percent compared to 2019 due to the impact of travel retail. While DFS suffered from “the very limited recovery in international travel, travel restrictions in China, and quarantine measures in Hong Kong,” not all was lost, as growing demand from local customers helped to boost sales at the seven T Gallerias outposts in Macao. Still yet, Sephora helped buoy the Selective Retailing division by “surpassing its 2019 level of activity, benefiting from the strong rebound in its stores and the continued momentum of its online sales.” 

In addition to growing e-commerce sales for Sephora, LVMH also pointed to Loewe and Marc Jacobs, stating that Loewe’s “online sales grew significantly” and Loewe enjoyed “a highly impressive surge in online sales.” In what is likely a nod at least in part to the role of e-commerce, LVMH states that “investments in [Celine’s] omnichannel strategy played a key role in the Maison’s new gains.”

As a whole, the group reported “continued strong growth of online sales alongside the gradual return of customers in stores,” noting that in terms of efforts, including continued online endeavors, it “made the choice to keep the distribution [of its major Maisons] highly selective, limit promotional offers and develop online sales through their own websites” in order to “preserve their exceptional image – a key element of their lasting appeal.” Going forward, LVMH says it expects to double-down on “the digitization of its Maisons to enrich customers’ experiences online and in stores.”

In a post earnings call on Thursday, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault stated that he believes that the group “has enough wiggle room to raise prices” – which has been a common move across the luxury landscape over the past couple of years, in particular – “and protect its margins in an inflationary environment,” per Reuters. He cautioned, however, that management has to “remain reasonable” when it comes to boosting prices of the group’s offerings in the year ahead.

In November, a $1.15 billion deal came to light, bringing together Cartier’s parent company Richemont, Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba, and fashion retail platform Farfetch. The headline-making transaction followed from reports that a “mega deal” was in the making. In addition to proving noteworthy because it brought together three very big names in the fashion sphere in furtherance of an effort that largely focuses on “providing luxury brands with enhanced access to the China market,” the alliance is striking, as it has given rise to speculation about a potential consolidation, with at least some analysts wondering aloud whether the $1.15 billion tie-up could be “a preamble” to Richemont merging Yoox Net-a-Porter with Farfetch or the Swiss conglomerate selling the fashion e-commerce pioneer to Alibaba. 

Around the same time, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton decided to make good on an acquisition effort of its own, the one it had also been quietly (and then not so quietly) working towards: Tiffany & Co. Just a matter of days before the Farfetch-Alibaba-YNAP deal was confirmed, LVMH and Tiffany revealed that they had managed to put their rival lawsuits to bed and come to agreeable terms under which the famed New York-based jewelry stalwart could be brought under the ownership umbrella of the Paris-based luxury goods titan. In exchange for $15.8 billion, LVMH would acquire all shares in the formerly publicly-traded Tiffany & Co.

Both instances come as consolidation has been top of mind in the luxury space, where the biggest groups, such as Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH and Gucci’s parent company Kering, have amassed sizable rosters of brands over the past several decades, thereby, enabling them to benefit from sheer size and scale, while making it more difficult for independently-owned brands to compete. The havoc wreaked on brands’ balance sheets by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift online (and the expenses that come with doing that and doing it well) is expected to accelerate that existing industry activity even further. 

“With the financial difficulties [brought about by COVID] in mind, many players, and in particular the smallest, will become more-affordable targets,” according to Isabelle Chaboud, an Associate Professor in the Finance, Accounting and Law Department of Grenoble Ecole de Management. “The most financially solid players – such as LVMH, Kering or Chanel – will no doubt have the option of buying out competitors, subcontractors and even suppliers.” And Kering, for one, is “actively on the hunt for new brands,” the group revealed in a Q4 conference call last month. (Although, it reportedly was unable to lure Richemont into a deal.)

A Timeline of Transactions

With the foregoing in mind, here is a running timeline of the most recent acquisitions and investments in the luxury and broader fashion space dating back to LVMH’s headline-making deal with Tiffany & Co. … 

Jan. 27, 2022 – Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS Raises $240 Million

Kim Kardashian’s shapewear label SKIMS raised $240 million in an unknown-series round that was led by hedge fund Lone Pine Capital and that also included D1 Capital Partners, along with existing investors Thrive Capital, Natalie Massenet’s Imaginary Ventures, and Alliance Consumer Growth. The round doubles the barely three-year-old brand at $3.2 billion, up from $1.6 billion in April 2021. Kardashian and SKIMS CEO Jens Grede will retain a controlling stake in the company after the investment, according to Bloomberg.

Jan. 18, 2022 – LVMH Luxury Ventures Invests in Aimé Leon Dore

LVMH’s Luxury Ventures investment vehicle has taken a minority stake in budding New York-based brand Aimé Leon Dore. While the terms of the investment – which appears as though it might be the latest deal to have been brokered by Alexandre Arnault – have not been disclosed, LVMH typically Luxury Ventures typically targets investments ranging from €2 million to €15 million. In a statement on Tuesday, Aimé Leon Dore founder Teddy Santis stated, “LVMH’s vast network of global leaders across the industry and its rich history in growing exceptional storied brands offers a truly unique partnership opportunity to fuel the next chapter of growth for Aimé Leon Dore.”

Jan. 13, 2022 – LVMH Luxury Ventures Takes a Stake in Heat

Mystery boxes are the latest target of investment for LVMH’s Luxury Ventures, with the French luxury goods conglomerate’s fund among the parties to a $5 million round raised by Heat. OTB Group board member and BVX CEO Stefano Rosso, Singapore-headquartered VC firm Antler, L Catterton partner Michael Mitterlehner, Spotify Director of Global Growth Sven Ahrens, and the Hermès family are some of the other investors in London-based Heat’s seed round, the funds from which will be used to “implement gamification, AI-driven personalization, and interactive drops, all while driving sustainability,” the company revealed.

Nov. 22, 2021 – CVC Capital, HPS Investment Take Stake in Authentic Brands

Private equity firms CVC Capital Partners and HPS Investment Partners have acquired “significant equity stakes” in Authentic Brands Group, putting a a $12.7 billion enterprise value on the company and prompting it to postpone a previously-planned planned initial public offering until at least 2023. In a statement on Monday, ABG said that “since its founding in 2010, [it] has experienced significant growth by implementing a proven playbook that connects strong brands with best-in-class licensees and a network of partners to optimize value in the marketplace.” Among the 30 or so brands under its ownership umbrella are Forever 21, Barneys New York, Aeropostale, Brooks Brothers, and Vision Street Wear.

Reflecting on the deal, ABG Chief Executive Jamie Salter told CNBC, “The IPO climate is ridiculous. I think we would have gotten a massive valuation … maybe even more than what we sold the business for. But guess what? I’d rather be private.”

Meanwhile, New York-based ABG’s acquisition of Reebok is expected to close in early 2022.

Sept. 23, 2021 – G-III to Acquire Sonia Rykiel

G-III Apparel Group revealed that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Sonia Rykiel, with plans to accelerate the relaunch of the French fashion brand primarily in Europe, for the fall of 2022, with collections across multiple categories. The transaction, which comes less than two years after brothers Eric and Michael Dayan successfully bid to acquire all of the bankrupt brand’s assets via a court-administered process. (Those assets included the brand’s intellectual property rights (namely, its various global trademark registrations, and decades of archives and product prototypes); the commercial leases for its brick-and-mortar outposts in France – from its Saint Germain flagship to a glitzy boutique in Cannes, among others; and its remaining stock of garments and accessories.)

The deal is expected to close by the end of October 2021.

Aug. 24, 2021 – Chanel Takes Majority Stake in Paima

Chanel has taken a majority stake in Italian knitwear company Paima, a move that falls in line with a larger pattern of luxury giants looking gain greater control over their supply chains by bringing key third-party companies under their own roofs. “This decision has been motivated by converging interests,” Chanel asserted in a statement, noting that while Paima, which has been a supplier for the French fashion brand for 25 years, “has seen its development accelerate in recent years, it seemed appropriate to have a solid partner to help it grow [further] and invest.” More than that, Chanel revealed that the investment “provides a more sustainable collaboration framework by continuing an already established relationship.”

Aug. 12, 2021 – Authentic Brands Group Buys Reebok

Adidas is selling its Reebok brand to Authentic Brands Groups for up to 2.1 billion euros ($2.46 billion), with the German sporting wear group looking to “focus on its core brand after the U.S. fitness label failed to live up to expectations,” per Reuters. Authentic Brand, which filed its preliminary IPO documentation in July, has been on a buying streak in the past few years, with the brand developer buying up an array of fashion and apparel companies, ranging from Juicy Couture and Judith Leiber to Jones New York, Volcom, and Aeropostale.

Jul. 28, 2021 – Aeffe Takes Full Control of Moschino 

Italian fashion and luxury goods group Aeffe S.p.A. has acquired the remaining 30 percent of Moschino in exchange for 66.6 million euros ($78.51 million), bringing its holding of the company to 100 percent and the valuation of the Jeremy Scott-designed brand to $261.7 million. Aeffe also owns Alberta Ferretti, Philosophy by Lorenzo Serafini and Pollini.

In a statement, Aeffe Executive Chairman Massimo Ferretti said, “The operation we have just concluded has long been considered an important step in our medium-long term growth strategy. With the full control over MOSCHINO brand, we are now in the best conditions to manage all activities related to the brand’s value chain, from product to quality and with positive effects on image, distribution and communication.”

Jul. 20, 2021 – LVMH Takes Majority Stake in Off-White

LVMH announced on Tuesday that it is taking a majority stake in Off-White, the upscale streetwear brand that Virgil Abloh launched in 2013. In a statement, LVMH revealed that in addition to taking a 60 percent stake in Off-White, it has entered into a new “arrangement” with Abloh to “jointly pursue new projects across luxury categories.” 

Jul. 18, 2021 – L Catterton Takes Majority Stake in Etro

Etro announced on July 18 that it entered into a binding agreement to partner with L Catterton. Under the terms of the agreement, LVMH-affiliated L Catterton Europe will acquire a majority stake in Etro, while the Etro family will retain a significant minority. Etro Founder Gerolamo Etro will be appointed as Chairman of the company.

Jul. 12, 2021 – LVMH Takes Minority Stake in Phoebe Philo

Phoebe Philo announced that she is launching her own label after spending three and a half years out of the spotlight following her 10-year tenure with Celine, and revealed that LVMH has taken a minority stake in her soon-to-launch label. The size of LVMH’s minority position and the terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Jul. 11, 2021 – Nordstrom Takes Stake in Four ASOS Brands

Nordstrom announced that it has acquired a minority stake in four apparel brands owned by British fashion group ASOS. Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and the activewear label HIIT, which ASOS acquired from Arcadia Group for £295 million ($407.21 million) in February 2021, will enable the U.S. department store chain to target millennial and Gen-Z consumers. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Jul. 7, 2021 – Glossier Raises $80 Million in Latest Round

Glossier announced that it has raised $80 million in Series E funding. The round, which was led by Lone Pine Capital with participation from existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Index Ventures, IVP, Sequoia Capital, and Thrive Capital, values the millennial-focused beauty company at $1.8 billion.

Jun. 30, 2021 – Richemont Acquires Delvaux

Cartier owner Richemont announced on Wednesday that it has acquired a 100 percent stake in Belgian luxury leather goods brand Delvaux in “a private transaction.” Founded in 1829, Richemont says that Delvaux is the oldest luxury leather goods Maison in the world. The Swiss conglomerate revealed that the transaction has “no material financial impact on [its] consolidated net assets or operating result for the year ending March 31, 2022,” and that Delvaux’s revenues will be reported within its “Other” business area.

The acquisition appears to be a sign that Richemont is looking to bolster its softer luxury offerings, having built its name in the hard luxury (i.e., jewelry and watches) segment of the market.

Jun. 24, 2021 – GOAT Nabs $3.7 Billion Valuation with New Round

Online sneaker and apparel marketplace GOAT Group has raised $195 million in a new funding round, which has “more than doubled its valuation to $3.7 billion,” per Reuters. The Los Angeles-based company, which was founded in 2015, boasts some 30 million customers across 170 countries, and “posted gross merchandise value, which represents the total volume of goods sold, of $2 billion over the past year as sales of sneakers and apparel surged.”

The buzzy platform made headlines early this year when it announced that it had welcomed a “strategic investment” from Groupe Artemis – the controlling shareholder of Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta’s parent company Kering – as it “continues its expansion in fashion apparel and new categories.” (It also garnered attention in connection with a settlement in the trademark lawsuit filed against it by London-based brand Goat Fashion.)

Jun. 24, 2021 – Kering Takes Stake in Luxury Rental Co. Cocoon

Kering has taken an undisclosed stake in a luxury rental company. In a statement on Thursday, Kering announced that it has invested in Cocoon, a London-based startup that specializes in facilitating rentals for luxury handbags – including offerings from upwards of 30 brands, such as Kering-owned Gucci, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta – with the investment coming as part of a larger $3.5 million round that also included participation from resale platform Depop’s founder Simon Beckerman, among others. Kering’s chief client and digital officer Gregory Boutte said the deal is part of a larger strategy by the conglomerate to invest in innovative young companies. 

Jun. 22, 2021 – Prada, Zegna Take Stakes in Cashmere Supplier

Prada has partnered with fellow Italian fashion company Ermenegildo Zegna Group to acquire a controlling stake in Italian cashmere producer Filati Biagioli Modesto in furtherance of a quest to “secure a domestic supply chain and luxury-goods manufacturing expertise.” The two big-name fashion entities will each take a 40 percent stake in the Montale-based supplier, which is known for its Italian cashmere and “noble yarns,” while the Biagioli family will hold on to 15 percent of the company, and newly-appointed CEO Renato Cotto – who recently served as a director at LVMH’s Loro Piana – will assume a 5 percent holding. 

Jun. 18, 2021 – LVMH Takes Full Control of Pucci

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired the outstanding 33 percent stake in Emilio Pucci just over two decades after it paid an undisclosed sum for a 67 percent ownership stake in the Italian fashion house in 2000. In a statement on Friday, as first reported by WWD, Toni Belloni, LVMH’s group managing director thanked the Pucci family, and in particular, Laudomia Pucci, the daughter of founder Emilio Pucci, who has served as the Deputy Chairman and Image Director of the brand, “for their friendship and collaboration over the years.” In conjunction with the deal, Ms. Pucci will step down from her current role and “dedicate herself to the archives and promoting the heritage of her late father.”

Jun. 10, 2021 – Fosun Fashion Group Announces Sergio Rossi Acquisition

In a statement on June 10, Fosun Fashion Group revealed that it has signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of Sergio Rossi S.p.A from from Absolute Luxury Holding S.r.l., an independently-managed investment subsidiary of Investindustrial V L.P., for an undisclosed sum. The Shanghai-headquartered group stated that the acquisition will “further enrich FFG’s luxury brand portfolio, which currently includes Lanvin, Wolford, Caruso and St. John Knits, complementing the group’s core competency through luxury accessories.”

Jun. 8, 2021 – Sequoia Takes Stake in SSENSE

SSENSE announced that it has sold an undisclosed stake in the company to California-based venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in a deal that values the Montreal-headquartered e-commerce retailer at 5 billion CAD ($4.13 billion). As for what the investment might entail, it appears that the high fashion-focused retailer has set its sights on expansion in China, as Angelica Cheung, the former editor-in-chief of Vogue China, who joined Sequoia Capital China as a venture partner in February, will join the SEENSE’s board in connection with the deal.

Apr. 22, 2021 – LVMH Boosts Stake in Tod’s

Tod’s revealed that LVMH will boost its exist stake in Tod’s to 10 percent by way of a new 6.8 percent increase. “A source close to the matter said the French giant does not expect to raise its stake further for now,” Reuters reported, noting that Tod’s founder and chairman Diego Della Valle has been a member of LVMH’s board of directors since 2002. While Della Valle has repeatedly denied longstanding chatter about a takeover, he stated on Thursday that “this may represent an excellent reason to consider further opportunities to be taken in the future ahead,” referring to LVMH’s stake increase.

Mar. 25, 2021 – Made in Italy Fund acquires Dondup

Made in Italy Fund has acquired Milan-based fashion brand Dondup from fellow private equity firm L Catterton for an undisclosed sum. “The fund said it aims at creating a fashion conglomerate with Dondup and other fashion brands it owns – 120%Lino, known for its linen clothes, and jewellery and accessories maker Rosantica – and expanding their foothold in Europe and the United States, Reuters reported. The firm also maintains a majority stake in 6-year old Italian streetwear label GCDS, which it acquired in November 2020.

Mar. 8, 2021 – Ferrari owner Exor takes 24% stake in Louboutin

Exor Group – the $30 billion Netherlands-incorporated investment group run by the Italian Agnelli family and the largest shareholder in Italian automaker Ferrari – announced that it will take a 24 percent stake in the independently-owned Louboutin in exchange for 541 million euros ($640 million), a deal that values the 30-year old Paris-based footwear brand at $2.3 billion euros ($2.73 billion) and sets it up for expansion, particularly in China.

Mar. 5, 2021 – Margiela-owner OTB acquires Jil Sander

Japanese apparel group Onward Holdings announced that it will sell the Jil Sander brand to Renzo Rosso’s luxury group, OTB, the parent of Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Amiri, and Viktor & Rolf. The financial figures associated with that deal remain undisclosed.

Mar. 1, 2021 – Kering leads $216 million Vesitaire round

Kering and American investment firm Tiger Global Management are leading a new funding round that sees secondhand marketplace Vestiaire Collective bring in $216 million in new funding, along with existing investors, including its CEO Max Bittner, Vogue’s parent company Condé Nast, and the Eurazeo Group, among others. The deal gives Paris-based Vestiaire “unicorn status” – i.e., puts a $1 billion-plus value on the privately-held company – and “ideally positions it for its next cycle of accelerated growth.” 

Dec. 9, 2020 – Exor Group acquires Shang Xia

Ferrari owner Exor Group announced that it will invest “around €80 million [$96.9 million] in Shang Xia via a reserved capital increase that will result in it becoming the company’s majority shareholder.” Exor noted that Hermès – which “has accompanied Shang Xia successfully throughout the initial phase of its development – will remain as an important shareholder alongside Exor and [founder] Jiang Qiong Er.”

Dec. 7, 2020 – Moncler acquires Stone Island

Moncler announced that it will acquire Italian fashion label Stone Island for $1.4 billion. Bloomberg reported that the Milan-headquartered luxury outerwear company will “purchase 70 percent of Stone Island’s parent company SPW from Chief Executive Officer Carlo Rivetti and other members of his family, [and] then buy the remaining 30 percent from Singapore’s state investor Temasek” in furtherance of a two-step transaction. 

Nov. 9, 2020 – VF Corp. acquires Supreme for $2.1 billion

Three years after Supreme sold off a reported 50 percent stake to private equity giant Carlyle Group, VF Corp revealed that it will pay $2.1 billion to buy popular streetwear brand. The deal – which was formally completed on December 28, 2020 – saw VF Corp. take full ownership of Supreme, with current Supreme investors Carlyle Group and New York-based private equity firm Goode Partners agreeing to sell their stakes in the New York-based brand. 

Nov. 5, 2020 – Alibaba, Richemont invest $1.1 billion in Farfetch

Alibaba Group Holding and Richemont announced that they will invest $1.1 billion in online luxury fashion retailer Farfetch and its new marketplace in China. At the same time, Artemis – an investment vehicle tied to Gucci owner Kering – simultaneously announced that it would increase its stake in Farfetch with a $50 million injection of cash in exchange for Farfetch’s Class A ordinary shares. 

Oct. 29, 2020 – LVMH and Tiffany & Co. agree to $15.8 billion merger

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. managed to salvage their meger deal, with the French luxury goods conglomerate agreeing to pay a few dollars less per share to acquire the New York-based jewelry company. In a statement, the parties confirmed that LVMH will pay $131.5 per Tiffany share, down from the $135/share price tag they initially agreed to in November 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

*This article was initially published on March 1, 2021, and has been updated accordingly.

Diptyque may have settled the advertising-centric lawsuit that it filed against Italic last year, but it appears to have paved the way for a similar suit, which has since been waged by buzzy activewear company ALO. In the complaint that it filed against Italic in a California federal court on Wednesday, the Beverly Hills-based athleisure company claims that Italic has engaged in a pattern of marketing that “consists of false and misleading statements, depictions and purported comparisons involving ALO products,” and by running such a campaign, which has appeared on billboards and buses, it is violating trademark and false advertising laws. 

According to the newly-filed complaint, ALO asserts that it has “marketed and sold products under the ‘alo’ brand since 2006 and, due to continuous, extensive advertising, promotion and sales,” it has developed “considerable goodwill and reputation throughout the United States and abroad.” At the same time, ALO claims that it has “sold millions of dollars’ worth of products under the ALO trademarks and has expended a great deal of time and effort and resources in the promotion and advertisement of its products under the ALO name,” for which it has held the exclusive right to use since it first adopted the marks more than 15 years ago. 

Against this background, ALO alleges that Italic – a retailer that prides itself on eliminating traditional retail markups and offering up products for “50 to 80% less” than name brands and with “the exact same quality” – is making use of an advertising strategy that “intentionally associate[s] Italic with ALO to consumers and trade[s] on ALO’s goodwill” in the process. Specifically, ALO points to two Italic ad campaigns – one for a sports bra and another for a pair of leggings, both of which it says are misleading because they suggest that the lookalike garments sold by Italic are “the same as [those] sold by ALO in all respects except for the price.” 

That is not the case, per ALO, which claims that Italic goes a step further by concealing the actual product names, which means that “an actual or potential consumer will not be able to go to the respective ALO and Italic websites and find the actual products being compared, which would reveal the differences in quality, craftsmanship and materials (among other things) between the products in the ad.” Additionally, ALO asserts that by simply labeling its products in the ads as “Alo Yoga,” the ads “misleadingly suggest” that ALO only makes one sports bra and that it costs $57, and one pair of leggings, which cost $91. 

(And that is not all: It turns out that the price that Italic lists the ALO bra for is “literally false.” ALO says that its Airbrush Real Bra Tank is actually sold for $72, and emphasizes that the“false designation of price is material” because its products, including the Airbrush Real Bra Tank, “are extremely high quality, premium goods, and their value is reflected by the innovative designs and quality materials and are priced accordingly.” By misidentifying the product in the ad, and by displaying the incorrect price “which devalues the product,” ALO claims that “Italic misleads consumers into thinking, among other things, that ALO’s product is the same as Italic’s product, which it is not.”)

Given that the additional information that serves to disclaim any affiliation between ALO and Italic in connection with such ads takes the form of “small fine print … [that] is not legible,” it does not “rectify the false and misleading nature of the ad, or the unnecessary and unauthorized use of ALO’s trademarks, which serve only to intentionally associate Italic with ALO to consumers and trade on ALO’s goodwill.” 

Aside from the physical ad campaigns, ALO argues that Italic’s “false and misleading advertising campaign is reinforced through its online website.” Pointing to the sports bra and leggings that Italic advertises by way of the bus and the billboard ads, ALO asserts that “Italic’s website makes further false and misleading statements regarding the manufacturer of the Italic and ALO products. Specifically, on its product page for Activewear products, ALO points to Italic practice of “falsely claim[ing] that its ‘Aura High Rise Legging 7/8’ and ‘Aura Racerback Sports Bra’ are made using the ‘Same manufacturer as’ Alo Yoga,” a manufacturer called Intramural Goods. The problem, according to ALO, is that Intramural Goods does not make its leggings or sports bras, which means that Italic’s statement is “false and misleading.”

With the foregoing in mind, ALO sets out claims of trademark infringement, as “the use of ALO’s trademark in commerce, in connection with the advertising of Italic’s goods or services is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deceptive as to the source or sponsorship of Italic’s goods/services, and/or the material qualities of ALO’s and/or Italic’s goods/services.” 

Attempting to preempt pushback from Italic, ALO claims that the retailer’s use of its marks does not amount to nominative fair use based on Ninth Circuit precedent, which states that “in considering nominative fait use a defendant must meet three requirements: (1) the product or service in question must be one not readily identifiable without use of the trademark; (2) only so much of the mark or marks may be used as is reasonably necessary for identify the product or service; and (3) the user must do nothing that would, in conjunction with the mark, suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder.” According to ALO, Italic’s “unauthorized and inaccurate use” if its marks fails to satisfy these requirements. 

ALO also makes claims of false advertising/false designation of origin, and unfair competition under California state law, and is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages. 

The ALO case comes just a couple of months after luxury candle-maker Diptyque settled the false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement case that it waged against Italic over an ad campaign in which Italic allegedly pushes viewers towards its own candles by comparing the $16 price tag of its offerings to a $68 Diptyque candle, along with the text, “A candle that doesn’t smell like burning money,” in bold. 

A rep for Italic was not immediately available for comment. 

The case is ALO, LLC v. Italic, Inc., 2:22-cv-00567 (C.D.Cal.)

Walmart is pushing back against Vans’ claims that it has embarked on “an escalating campaign to knock off virtually all of [its] bestselling shoes,” and is running afoul of its trademark rights in the process. On the heels of Vans and its parent company VF Corp. filing a trademark infringement suit against Walmart in a California federal court in November and subsequently seeking “the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction” to stop Walmart from offering up the allegedly infringing footwear, the retail titan argues that the Vans and VF Corp.’s preliminary injunction motion falls short and should be denied.

In a filing in opposition to Vans and VF Corp. (the “plaintiffs”)’s motion for a preliminary injunction, Walmart argues that the two companies have failed to show that barring it from selling the allegedly infringing sneakers, including by removing them from more than 3,700 brick-and-mortar stores and its e-commerce site, is an appropriate remedy. Among other things, Walmart claims that the plaintiffs’ failure to act sooner in filing suit and seeking injunctive relief rebuts the presumption of irreparable harm (i.e., harm that cannot be compensated by a monetary damages award), which is the most critical element that weighs in favor of injunctive relief. 

Walmart claims that there is a sheer lack of urgency at play in the case, as indicated by the plaintiffs’ failure to take action against it in connection with its alleged practice of “flood[ing] the market with cheap, low-quality, and confusingly similar shoes” for at least eighteen months from when it claims that Vans became aware of the lookalike shoe designs. (The plaintiffs allege that Walmart has sold over twenty different styles of copycat footwear “in a concerted, systematic, and escalating campaign to rip off Vans’ shoes in broad-brush fashion,” making it so that “the scope of Walmart’s infringement cannot be overstated.”)

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer also claims that Vans then waited a month after filing its complaint to try to put Walmart’s sales of the footwear on hold by way of a preliminary injunction.

Walmart Vans

Beyond that, Walmart asserts that Vans is not suffering “any irreparable harm,” as it is not losing sales and its reputation is not being diminished as a result of Walmart’s footwear. And “even if the court were to find that Vans is likely to be irreparably harmed,” Walmart claims that the balance of equities “overwhelmingly” weighs in its favor. In fact, Walmart argues that it will be the party that is most damaged if an injunction is put in place since it would not only lose sales, but it would incur “the enormous logistical costs of removing from sale and disposing of more than [a redacted number of] pairs of shoes from thousands of stores across the country, estimated to be at least $1.4 million.” In total, Walmart contends that the issuance of a preliminary injunction would cost it “tens of millions of dollars.” 

In an apparent consideration of the sustainability angle, Walmart claims that in addition to causing it to lose money, requiring it to remove the allegedly infringing shoes from the market – even just for the duration of the case – “would entail warehousing and destruction (i.e., incineration) of the removed shoes as well as all existing inventory.” Destruction of the shoes would be “necessary,” per Walmart, “due to product quality deterioration caused by mold and the aging of materials which would occur if the shoes are warehoused for too long a period of time.” 

Taken together, Walmart argues that the lack of irreparable harm at play for the plaintiffs paired with a balance of the harm that it would incur as a result of an injunction means that the court should refuse to allow for a preliminary injunction. 

Still yet, Walmart claims that Vans is not likely to prevail on the merits of the case, another key element that courts examine in making an injunction determination. Setting the stage, Walmart asserts that the case “does not involve alleged counterfeiting, does not involve identical marks, and [that] Vans’ claims are weak, and the issues of infringement and validity of Vans’ purported trade dress are hotly contested.” 

First things first, Walmart takes aim at the rights that Vans bases its trademark claims on, stating that the “so-called trade dress, based on common law rights, is comprised of common elements – a rubberized sidewall with consistent height; upper portion of sidewall having a grooved appearance; textured toe box around front of the sidewall; visible stitching – all used by numerous sneaker brands.” In a “crowded field of similar looking sneakers,” Walmart alleges that “it is unlikely that consumers will associate the common elements and common overall look of Vans’ purported trade dress with Vans.”

The only aspect of Vans’ asserted trade dress that is “arguably distinctive,” according to Walmart “is the logo, the so-called Side Stripe Mark,” and even that is problematic, as the design on the side of Walmart’s sneakers is “strikingly different from the Vans ‘wave,’ and the overall commercial impression of the designs is completely different.”

With that in mind, Walmart turns to the issue of likelihood of confusion, which it argues that Vans cannot establish in large part because the design that appears on Walmart’s shoes is “totally different than the Vans Side Stripe Mark,” and the “vastly different logo designs, alone, are enough to obviate any likelihood of confusion, particularly in a sneaker market where shoe designs are often quite similar, and the logo is an important distinguishing feature.” 

Walmart Vans

Additionally, Walmart argues that the risk of confusion is low because of the different price points at play and the distribution channels that its shoes and Vans’ shoes occupy. The allegedly infringing Walmart sneakers “all sell for less than $20, [and] are only sold at Walmart stores and on Walmart.com,” which is distinct from Van’s higher price points and its distribution, which consists of “Nordstrom’s, Urban Outfitters, Foot Locker, and Vans’ own retail stores,” and makes it so that “Walmart shoppers know what they are buying, and they are not confused or tricked into believing that they are buying Vans shoes.” 

Among other things that Vans has put forth in arguing that Walmart’s lookalike footwear is likely to confuse consumers are “deeply flawed and biased [consumer] surveys,” and an array of “materials from the internet, such as social media posts,” the latter of which Walmart claims “lack foundation, are unauthenticated, and constitute hearsay.” 

Even if the social media posts and other consumer commentary is admissible evidence, Walmart asserts that they do not support Vans’ likelihood of confusion arguments, and instead, “show that consumers are not confused and can easily distinguish Vans from Walmart brands.” For example, Walmart says that one social media user “purportedly says that Walmart’s $7 shoes ‘Look Like $60 Vans!’” Instead of weighing in Vans’ favor, Walmart claims that “this statement, and statements like it, illustrate that consumers are not confused and can easily distinguish between Vans and Walmart shoes.” 

Ultimately, Walmart contends that its “position on the merits is strong [as] the parties’ shoes bear different designs and are sold in distinct channels of commerce; no rational consumer is likely to confuse the products, particularly at the point of sale.” Yet, it continues on to claim that “the Court need not even reach the merits [because] Vans falls woefully short of carrying its burden to prove that it is suffering irreparable harm and that the balance of hardships weighs in its favor.” And with that in mind, Walmart urges the court to deny Vans and VF’s motion “on those bases alone.” 

The case is Vans, Inc. et al, v. Walmart, Inc., et al, 8:21-cv-01876 (C.D.Cal.)

Moon Boot-maker Tecnica Group has suffered another loss in its years-long quest to defend the registration of its famed footwear, with the European Union General Court upholding a previous finding that the three dimensional mark lacks the necessary distinctiveness to avoid invalidation. The case got its start on the heels of Swiss wholesaler Zeitneu GmbH lodging a declaratory judgment action with the Tribunale di Venezia, unsuccessfully seeking a declaration from the court that it was not infringing Tecnica’s Moon Boot trademark registration, and then initiating proceedings before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) to invalidate Tecnica’s boot mark. 

In its 2017 opposition, Zeitneu argued that Tecnica’s trademark registration – which covers the configuration of an elliptical-shaped sole, L-shaped body, lacing that is “fastened in ring loops that move up the upper, crossing over at the back of the boot, finishing at the top of the boot shaft,” and “a central band [on the upper] that is wider and located between two external bands which are narrower” for use on leather goods, clothing, and footwear, among other things – is not distinctive, as required for trademark registration. 

Given that the overall shape and design of Tecnica’s Moon Boot is not all that different from other après-ski boots on the market, Zeitneu asserted that consumers no longer view the design configuration as an indicator of source, and instead, view it as a generic style of boot. 

And the EUIPO’s Cancellation Division agreed to an extent, declaring in a decision in March 2019 that the contested Moon Boot trademark is invalid with respect to footwear but not the other types of goods, stating that the boot design lacks distinctiveness in large part because the “L” shape mirrors that of a larger pool of boots, and therefore, cannot be registered in accordance with EU trademark law, which mandates that marks that are devoid of distinctive character shall not be subject to registration. With that in mind, the Cancellation Division invalidated the mark for use in Class 25, the class of goods/services that includes footwear. 

Tecnica appealed, only to have the First Board of Appeal of the EUIPO uphold the Cancellation Division’s decision on the grounds that the moon boot mark “has the general ‘L’ shape of any other boot that has to adapt to the feet,” and therefore, “does not depart from the ‘norms or customs of the sector.’” In a decision in May 2020, the Board determined that the relevant public (i.e., consumers in all the Member States that display an average level of attention) would likely not view the 3D Moon Boot mark to “depart very significantly from the mass of after-ski boots” on the market, and thus, concluded that the contested mark was devoid of any distinctive character. 

Among other things, Tecnica argued on appeal that evidence submitted by Zeitneu did not prove that consumers “had become used to the shape in question” and that, as a result, it “was devoid of any distinctive character.” On this front, the Appeal Board determined that it is “apparent from settled case-law that the distinctive character of a trademark … means that the mark in question makes it possible to identify the goods in respect of which registration is applied for as coming from a particular [entity], and thus, to distinguish those goods from those of other[s].” Beyond that, the trademark board held that precedent mandates that “the distinctive character of a mark be assessed, first, by reference to the goods or services in respect of which registration has been applied for and, secondly, by reference to the relevant public’s perception of the mark.” 

While the Board asserted that the criteria for assessing the distinctive character of 3D trademarks consisting of the appearance of the product itself is no different from those applicable to other categories of trademarks, it noted that “average consumers are not in the habit of making assumptions about the origin of goods on the basis of their shape or the shape of their packaging in the absence of any graphic or word element, and it could prove more difficult to establish distinctive character in relation to such a three-dimensional mark than in relation to a word or figurative mark.”

Against this background, it held that “only a three-dimensional mark, consisting of the appearance of the product itself, which departs significantly from the norm or customs of the sector, and thereby, fulfils its essential function of indicating origin [and] is not devoid of any distinctive character for the purposes of Article 7(1)(b).” 

On the heels of the First Board of Appeal upholding the partial invalidation of the Moot Boot mark, Tecnica appealed again – this time to the European Union’s General Court, which sided with Zeitneu. Dismissing the appeal in its entirety, the General Court held that “the shape of the contested mark corresponds to the common shape of after-ski boots, which generally consist of a high shaft, often in a light synthetic material, with soles and laces,” and thus, while the boots, themselves, may be iconic, the shape is devoid of the necessary distinctive character to function as a trademark.

Reflecting on the General Court’s decision, Eleonora Rosati, the Director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Market Law at Stockholm University, says that it brings us “back to (a non-distinctive) reality” in the wake of a decision over the shape of a Guerlain lipstick case. This summer, the European Union’s General Court handed LVMH-owned Guerlain a win, overturning earlier determinations of the EUIPO and its Board of Appeal, both of which refused to register the shape of the French cosmetics and perfume brand’s lipstick case on the basis that the design of the three-dimensional packaging does not “depart significantly” from what others in the beauty segment of the market are doing, and thus, does not have the distinctive character necessary to serve as a trademark. 

In a decision dated July 14, the General Court held that the shape of Guerlain’s Rouge G lipstick packaging “satisfied the significant departure test and could be, therefore, registered,” a decision that Rosati says “offered some hope for those seeking to register less conventional signs.” 

The court’s decision in the case at hand, however, comes in contrast to that prior determination. 

Another interesting aspect of the running battle over the Moon Boot trademark, according to Rosati, is that “while the trademark registration has been regarded as partly invalid, Italian courts have, on different occasions (including in the context of previous decisions from the courts of Venice in Italy), found that the iconic after ski footwear is deserving of copyright protection.” Most recently, Rosati asserts that “this is what the Milan Court of First Instance held in a copyright infringement case that was decided nearly a year ago, in the case that Tecnica successfully waged against the maker of Chiara Ferragni-branded after-ski boots.”

In any case, Rosati notes, “the requirements for trademark registration and copyright are – and remain – obviously distinct, and last week’s decision from the General Court also provides an indirect reminder of this.”