Well, well. Legendary Brooklyn-based streetwear brand Walker Wear is suing Off-White for jacking its signature WW XXL Athletic mark—two side-by-side Ws—which the company has used since at least 1993.
According to a court document obtained by VIBE, Walker Wear founder April Walker filed a complaint last Friday (Aug. 20) against Off-White and retailers Farfetch and Saks Fifth Avenue “for federal and state trademark infringement, federal and state unfair competition, and state unfair business practices.”
The document states Walker “founded Walker Wear in 1990, and since then has designed clothing for many of hip-hop’s greatest icons, including The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, RUN-DMC, the Wu-Tang Clan, and many others.” It also provides images of models and celebrities rocking the brand’s clothing, including this photo of Biggie wearing a Walker Wear hoodie on the set of Lil’ Kim’s 1997 video for “Crush On You.”
The document goes on to note that “Off-White has been selling a ‘Diagonal Stripe Varsity Bomber Jacket,’” referred to throughout the papers as the “the Infringing Jacket,” and that Walker was first informed of “this appropriation of her intellectual property when her friend and fellow clothing designer, Carlos Maldonado, sent her an Instagram direct message on February 27, 2021, with a link to a Saks ad on Instagram featuring the Infringing Jacket.” As of the time of this article’s publication, the post was no longer available.
Bolstering its allegations, the complaint states, “Off-White has also promoted the Infringing Jacket on its social media channels, including, for example, the below post on April 12, 2021, featuring the Infringing Jacket.”
Walker Wear filed the complaint after Off-White began selling its varsity jacket for $2,234, breaking down the similarities between the designs: “The infringing jacket uses a design that is virtually identical to the WW Mark. The Infringing Jacket displays the two W’s in silver against a dark background on a casual, streetwear-style jacket. The W’s themselves closely resemble those on Walker Wear’s designs, broadly outlined with flat serifs (i.e., extending tips) at the top of each W.”
In March, Walker wrote an essay for The Fashion Bomb Daily, where she blasted Off-White’s lead creative director Virgil Abloh and other “big fashion house creative looters that do drive-bys and steal derivative works and original designs from independent designers that actually birth originality.”
“The fact that I’m a Blexican woman and it was done by Virgil Abloh. It felt intentional…like a strong and deliberate chess or jack move, maybe both,” expressed the Los Angeles-born Brooklyn native.
Similarly, the complaint also stated, “Off-White appears to have an unfortunate and long history of taking others’ designs. Virgil Abloh himself has made public statements acknowledging that he relies very substantially on others’ designs as part of his design strategy.”
Check out this video of April Walker discussing the origin and history of Walker Wear: