No one shoe should have all this power—especially not one this ugly (sorry to The Root’s resident Yeezy lover, VSB Senior Editor Panama Jackson, but I said what I said). Kanye West’s sartorial ode to the Alien franchise is yet again causing a stir, as the entertainer and fashion entrepreneur just upped the ante in an ongoing trademark dispute with Walmart. On Thursday, West’s Yeezy label filed suit against the retailer for selling deeply discounted knockoffs of its (absolutely hideous) Foam Runners (I said what I said), which the suit admits are “virtually indistinguishable.”
Per Page Six:
Introduced last year at a retail price of $75, the genuine Yeezy slides initially drew unflattering comparisons to Crocs. Nevertheless, they “instantly” sold out, and now sell for upwards of three times that on the secondary market, according to the suit.
The knockoffs on Walmart’s site, meanwhile, have been retailing for between $21.99 and $33.99 a pair. While Yeezy has sent Walmart legal warnings demanding that it yank the ripoff sneakers from its site, it has thus far failed to do so, according to the suit.
“Walmart is flagrantly trading off of his and Yeezy brand’s popularity by offering for sale an imitation version of the Yeezy Foam Runner,” the suit states. It further alleges that the fake versions sold through Walmart’s marketplace platform could potentially leech “hundreds of millions” from Kanye’s billion-dollar label, as well as jeopardizing the “reputation and the goodwill of the Yeezy brand” with “subpar quality.”
“Celebrities are regularly photographed wearing Yeezy clothing and footwear and using Yeezy products, which enhances the brand’s popularity and appeal to the general public,” the complaint adds (h/t Page Six). “Consumers likely would have purchased the Yeezy Foam Runner were it not for the cheaper, knock-off imitation shoe.”
Many of the knockoffs—which are produced by multiple sellers and include unofficial colorways not offered by Yeezy’s exclusive retailer, Adidas—had already been pulled from Walmart’s site. But notably, Page Six reports that other Yeezy-inspired merch, including a counterfeit version of the label’s popular slides, remained for sale as of a search on Thursday afternoon. With regard to the matter, Walmart offered a statement to the outlet, saying: “The product referenced in the complaint is not sold by Walmart, but rather by third party Marketplace sellers. We take allegations like this seriously and are reviewing the claim. We will respond in court as appropriate after we have been served with the complaint.”
Nevertheless, this suit is just the latest round in an escalating battle between the two entities. Only two months ago, West found himself on the receiving end of a suit from Walmart, resulting in a still unresolved logo dispute that in its language echoes the complaint now being made by Yeezy.
“On April 21, the world’s biggest retailer claimed in a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office that the new ‘rays from a sun’ logo created for the ‘Flashing Lights’ singer’s Yeezy brand is so similar to Walmart’s 13-year-old spark symbol that consumers might confuse them,” Page Six reported in May.