Entering a world where Christian Louboutin, Kate Spade and other designers have all tread before, a high-end shoe designer has filed a lawsuit against the Gap, charging the clothing chain with replicating his signature loafers and stripes.
Charles Philip, a Milan and Shanghai-based designer, alleges that Gap Inc., a chain with more than 3,000 stores worldwide, is essentially selling his 2011 line of shoes in their stores by copying his trademark of a "distinctive striped design on the inside of a shoe" and even using a similar name, calling the shoes the "Phillip Moccasin Slipper" and "Phillip Slipper," with two "l's" instead of one.
"Our client isn't claiming that he owns loafers," Philip's attorney, Andrea E. Bates told ABCNews.com. "What he is claiming is that he owns the trademark of the blue and white stripe inside of the shoe. Charles Philip is known for stripes inside the shoes and Gap has done the same thing, copied the entire line, same colors, same scheme."
Bates says that Gap introduced the line of "Phillip" shoes, which have since been removed from the Gap's website but are still available in stores, earlier this fall, around the same time the company launched its series of collections with GQ's 2012 Best New Menswear Designers.
Bates, on behalf of Philip, contends that is enough to draw confusion in the marketplace, leading customers to believe that they are purchasing the same brand of Philip's loafers, seen on the likes of stars like Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Alba and sold exclusively in high-end retailers including Neiman Marcus and Saks.
"He's extremely attentive to detail and his shoes meet a specific quality whereas the Gap shoes do not," Bates said of the "Phillip" line, which cost about 80 percent less than Philip's $150 to $185 shoes. "They look just like the Philip shoe and even have "Phillip" stamped in them but they do not remotely meet the quality of his shoes or why people spend the money they do to buy his shoes."
"It would be easy for a customer to be confused, maybe thinking that that's part of that [GQ] line," she said.
In court papers filed in Los Angeles Federal Court last month, the designer has asked the San Francisco-based retail chain to pull their versions of the shoe from store shelves and pay him an undisclosed compensation.
A call placed to Gap for comment was not returned. A spokeswoman earlier this week told the New York Post the company does "not comment on pending litigation."
The two sides will make their first court appearance at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 3.