Chanel Is Suing Hollywood-Favorite Vintage Store What Goes Around Comes Around
The French fashion house is accusing the retailer of hocking fakes and false advertising.
Chanel is hoping that what comes around, this time, is karma.
The French fashion house is suing What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA), the secondhand luxury store founded in New York in 1993 by Gerard Maione and Seth Weisser, for trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York's Southern District, Chanel claims that WGACA has not only sold counterfeit Chanel products, but that it has also falsely purported itself as a partner of the brand; Chanel cites the "#WGACAChanel" hashtags on social media as just one example of the store's attempt to bolster its own prestige by riding Chanel's tweed coattails.
"Through its business advertising and practices, Defendant WGACA has attempted to deceive consumers into falsely believing that [it] has some kind of approval of or relationship or affiliation with Chanel or that Chanel has authenticated WGACA’s goods in order to trade off of Chanel’s brand and good will," reads the strongly worded complaint.
Chanel points to WGACA's claim "100% Authenticity Guaranteed" as an instance of misrepresentation, reiterating that the fashion house has "explicitly refused" requests to forge such a partnership. "Customers considering purchasing purportedly Chanel-branded items from WGACA are, in fact, relying solely on WGACA — not Chanel — to guarantee “100% authenticity.”"
Additionally, Chanel has taken issue with WGACA use of the word "vintage" to describe some of the Chanel products it sells. Per the complaint, the FTC defines "vintage" items as "at least 50 years old," and Chanel claims many of the items sold by WGACA are actually less than 20 years old. Coupled with the Chanel-branded packaging the store uses, the fashion house alleges that WGACA is deceiving customers into believing that it is an authorized Chanel dealer, when it is not.
Chanel is seeking injunctive relief and an accounting of sales and profits from WGACA's Chanel goods, as well as damages and attorney's fees.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, WGACA vice chairman Frank Bober called the allegations "completely unfounded."
"We assure you that nothing can be further from the truth," he said. "We believe the allegations are completely unfounded and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves."
Over the years, WGACA has built a reputation as a trusted source for high-end vintage; the retailer, which also has locations in East Hampton and Roslyn, New York, opened a Beverly Hills location in 2016, followed by its fifth flagship store in Miami. The store has celebrity fans including Kendall Jenner, Rachel Zoe, Rashida Jones and Tracee Ellis Ross.
March 15, 2:50 p.m. Updated with statement from WGACA vice chairman Frank Bober.