In the world of big-name leather goods, shifts in strategy rarely come as a surprise. There are rumors and whispers of declining sales, or, alternately, talk of the designer becoming enough of a star in his own right that he or she doesn’t need the brand anymore. That’s why designer Christophe Lemaire’s exit from Hermès, announced yesterday and reported by Women’s Wear Daily, caught so many people off guard. (more…)

Louis Vuitton has always had one of the more comprehensive websites of the major handbag brands – it’s always had e-commerce, and even for pieces not sold online, prices and color options were generally available for shopper’ perusal – but it’s never been one of the more functional of fashion’s branded sites. Thanks to Nicolas Ghesquiere and his new vision for the brand, all that has changed. Please say the appropriate thank-yous to the deity of your choice. (more…)

It’s hard to successfully sue anyone for ripping off a clothing design in a US court, but Balenciaga is prepared to give it a shot. The French company alleges that American mass apparel brand Steve Madden has purposefully ripped off the most recognized portion of its super-successful Motorcycle Bag with the intent of confusing consumers, and it’s prepared to prove so in court, according to The Fashion Law.

Kering, which owns Balenciaga, is suing under “trade dress” laws, which are a subtype of trademark protection that doesn’t require a piece of design to contain a logo or clear branding in order to be protected. Instead, when a design itself is distinct enough to signal a brand identity to consumers, its creators are then eligible for protection from knockoffs. Balenciaga filed for trade dress protection for the front pocket portion of its Motorcycle Bags in 2007, and now the brand intends to use it.

As The Fashion Law points out, this isn’t the first time that Balenciaga has filed against Steve Madden; in 2009, Madden ripped off a pair of Balenciaga runway shoes and eventually paid an undisclosed sum to settle the lawsuit after two years of litigation. Madden later dismissed the lawsuit as “stupid,” but we have a feeling he might feel differently about this one – because of the long-filed registration and the ubiquity of Balenciaga’s Motorcycle design, it seems like the brand has a strong case.

We weren’t able to find any examples of the bags with which Balenciaga took specific issue, but it isn’t hard to imagine them. Lots of brands have bitten Balenciaga’s signature bag in the decade-plus that it’s been around, and changes in the brand’s management style over the last 18 months may mean that they’re looking to make an example of Madden for all others who might think that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Any young fame-seeker worth his Twitter followers knows that if something works once, it’ll probably work again. With that in mind, erstwhile Birkin (“Birkin”) destroyer and photographer Tyler Shields is back and making more waves with his lofty, arty thoughts on consumerism via more photos of an Hermes (maybe) handbag in a compromising position. (more…)

We hadn’t heard that Coach had poached a Vice President from Louis Vuitton, but the news came to us yesterday by way of a The Fashion Law post detailing Louis Vuitton North America’s new lawsuit against the American leather goods stalwart and one of its newest executives, Joon Ma. Apparently there’s some bad blood between the handbag giants. (more…)

In case you needed to find a reason to justify an upcoming weekend shopping spree, I have some good news: buying something fancy will make you happy, and in the longterm, it may actually even be cheaper than therapy. (Ok, I made up that last part.) (But it might be! The math depends on what kind of insurance deductible you have. So, you know, take it up with the fine folks of Blue Cross.) (more…)

Handbags occupy a unique place in fashion; they sit at the crossroads of art and commerce, and if brands want to succeed, their livelihoods often bends on how good they are at getting consumers to buy their bags, which have a much wider potential market than designer clothing. As it turns out, one of the best ways for designers to manipulate a customer into doing just that is to snub them in stores, according to some forthcoming consumer research from the University of British Columbia. Maybe that’s why service is so rude. (more…)

Fashion is an industry of rarity, but the news late last week from Mulberry may be the rarest thing we’ve seen in recent memory. On the heels of former CEO Bruno Guillon’s exit, the company has announced it will return to a price structure similar to the one it used before he took the helm of the brand two years ago. In real-world terms, that means one very important thing to bag lovers: Mulberry’s bags are about to become significantly less expensive. (more…)

This year, footwear virtuoso Giuseppe Zanotti marks 20 years of his eponymous brand, and he’s doing so in highly glamorous fashion. To commemorate the occasion, the company has released Jewel, the first of four anniversary capsule collections, this one featuring Zanotti’s popular flat sandals reimagined in gold with glittering details. These shoes will arrive in a selection of Zanotti’s flagship stores in June, and we were lucky to have the opportunity to ask Giuseppe himself a few questions about his illustrious history as one of the shoe biz’s biggest names. (more…)

Despite changes at Louis Vuitton in every area from creative director to accessories strategy, it looks like one thing is staying constant, at least for now: Michelle Williams will be the face of Louis Vuitton’s accessories campaign for another season. (more…)

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