Proenza Schouler / Target
Proenza Schouler's PS1 bag, left; Target's Mossimo bag, right.
As rampant as designer knock-offs may run, it's a rare thing when designer step up and formally discuss one knock-off in particular.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez -- the designers behind CFDA award-winning label Proenza Schouler -- did just that in a recent interview with Cathy Horyn of The New York Times, when they expressed disappointment that Target was selling what they believed to be a lower-price version of their iconic PS1 handbag.
The PS1, which Proenza Schouler's CEO stressed to The Times "has been a huge part of the growth of our business, as well a significant branding element," retails for about $1600 (shown above, left) and is -- despite the high price tag -- a best-seller at department stores and boutiques alike. Target's bag sells for about $35 (shown above, right), though Hernandez admitted that the chain had gotten "the attitude," "the slouch," and "the weight" of the bag "really right."
Knock-offs run rampant the fashion fashion world -- Forever 21, for example, has been called out on stocking more than its share -- and lower-priced imitations of designer It-bags are usually the easiest to spot as well as the most tantalizing for many shoppers.
What's most offensive to Proenza Schouler, apparently, is that the replica is being sold a store where they already have a relationship: Proenza Schouler's dresses created in collaboration with Target are currently being sold as part of the chain's anniversry Go International anniversary collection. As Proenza Schouler CEO Shirley Cook told The Times: So our product is in Target right now, and then this bag comes out ... It’s just disappointing, especially from someone we worked with.”
Indeed, considering Target has fostered a relationship with so many interesting designers -- from Rodarte to Thakoon to Anna Sui -- it does seem that the brand would want to at least have the appearance of taking the wishes of its recent collaborators in mind. That is no doubt what McCollough and Hernadez are banking on in telling The Times that they wish Target would stop selling the bag.
It seems Target, however, is not interested in engaging for the moment. According to The Times, Target's spokesperson issued this statement:
Target is committed to offering our guests everyday essentials alongside highly differentiated merchandise, all at a great value. It always has been and continues to be the policy of Target to respect the intellectual property rights of others.
If McCollough and Hernandez wish to press the issue, they'll likely be forced to enter the world of copyright lawsuits, which have had mixed results in the fashion world: For example, Forever 21 recently won a lawsuit brought by the brand Trovata over a similar claim.