Just a month after eyewear boutique Selima Optique filed a strongly-worded lawsuit against Kering, alleging that its “Made in Italy” sunglasses are actually made in China, the luxury conglomerate has urged a New York federal judge to toss the case out of court once and for all, as it lacks any “factual merit.”
Kering, which is the parent company of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, and Balenciaga, told Judge Valerie Caproni of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in a letter dated July 13 that Selima’s “entire” lawsuit is based on “the demonstrably false premise that defendants’ luxury eyewear products are made in China.”
The letter – which contains statements from both Selima and Kering – states that Kering “explained to [Selima] prior to the filing of this action, but for a few minor exceptions, all of the defendants’ luxury eyewear products, including those at issue here, are made in either Italy, France or Japan.”
Kering further claims that all of its wholesale accounts that received mismarked glasses – save for Selima – “readily understood the mistake, and exchanged the mislabeled units.” Selima, on the other hand, “responded by demanding compensation and threatening to file a class action lawsuit and ‘arrange for a press conference at the time of filing,’” saying that it “predict[ed] considerable media interest” in connection with its allegations.
Kering says that it refused Selima’s “unreasonable demand, and the instant action followed.”
While the parties have not yet engaged in settlement talks, Kering says it is “willing to engage in early settlement discussions with the sole goal of [Selima] dropping this litigation and issuing a corrective statement that its publicly-filed and damaging claims are factually erroneous. No resolution will include [Kering] compensating [Selima].”
Kering further noted in the letter that it intends to file a motion to dismiss “most, if not all, of [Selima’s] claims” in the suit.
Selima filed suit in June alleging that beginning in September 2016 – shortly after Kering launched its first global sales campaign for Gucci Eyewear after bringing its eyewear production in-house two years prior – Kering began defrauding consumers by “simply replacing the ‘Made In China’ labels [that come with affixed to its eyewear] with ‘Made In Italy’ labels” before selling them to wholesalers, such as Selima, or directly to consumers.
Selima claimed in its complaint that Kering is employing a “bait-and-switch scheme” by “deliberately and falsely represent[ing] that their eyeglasses and sunglasses are ‘Made in Italy,’” when “in truth, their products, or substantially all parts of their products, are made in China, and (at best) shipped to Italy for final assembly and packaging, and then exported.”