Small luxury handbag brand Tribe of Two, featured on “Animal Kingdom” and “Scandal,” is suing fashion house Tod’s over a logo it alleges is “confusingly similar” to its own.
The infringement complaint filed in New York Federal Court in April by Native American supermodel and founder, Brenda Schad centers around a double-T design trademarked by Tribe of Two in 2013. The logo consists of two interlocking T’s, the first right side up and the second upside down, for the name “Tribe of Two” that together also resemble a Roman numeral “II.” Tod’s debuted a similar logo in September 2015 at their fashion show in Milan and began selling Double-T items–including handbags–the following year. Interesting to note is the (obvious) fact that Tod’s does not have 2 T’s in their name and in fact was originally called JP Tod’s, a name that is often reported as having been chosen randomly from a Boston phonebook.
International press from the S/S 2016 Fashion show had rave reviews of Tod’s “new TT logo” despite being no more than a few hardware buckles applied to some bags and shoes. Within months after the positive press, the double T logo was featured heavily in social media carried by multiple movie stars and models who had all been gifted bags by Tod’s, which resulted in billions of social media views and further engrained the in the public eye the logo belonging to Tod’s with the “Iconic double T” #todsdoubleT rather than Tribe of Two. According to the complaint, Tribe of Two’s sales began to decline as the sales and marketing efforts of Tod’s increased.
Though Tribe of Two makes no explicit allegations, the lawsuit suggests a connection between an email containing the Tribe of Two logo, which it sent to the fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni in July 2015 and Tod’s adoption of its current double-T logo. Merely months after the email was sent, Tod’s debuted its new double-T design in Milan. In 2017, Tod’s collaborated with Ferragni for a #ChiaralovesTod’s collection featuring the Tod’s double T for a #ChiaralovesTod’s collection where Ferragni “reimagined” the double T moccasins. Ferragni was later appointed to Tod’s Board of Directors.
Tod’s has since counterclaimed that it had used a variation of the double-T mark as early as 2008. The design featured two interlocking Ts–the first upright and the second upside down. The old logo, however, featured curved lines and the word “Tod’s” written in the top section of the first T. Tod’s categorized these differences as “minor stylistic variations” and said the new and old logos are “legally equivalent.” However, since 2002 Tod’s company has filed for over 80 trademarks with the USPTO, none of which contained a double T.
Allegations of fashion plagiarism are nothing new, and this David v/ Goliath story is reminiscent of 2018 when the Indian fashion collective People Tree, started by Orijit Sen & Gurpreet Sidhu, created to empower artists, free thinkers, and marginalized women and children of India, had their unique block printed fabric design copied by Christian Dior. Dior settled the case and proceeds were given back to the community.
It is well documented in the press that TOD’S chairman, Italian tycoon Diego Della Valle had been “looking for a logo-based T that could represent TOD’S, much as Louis Vuitton and its LV, Guccione Gucci and its GG or Coco Chanel and its CC,” but had been unable to do so.
Tod’s SpA currently has over $1 billion USD in sales annually, a long way from the days of replicating Car Shoes. One would imagineTod’s could use its resources and find creative talent to do things differently.
Tribe of Two
2600 Biscayne Boulevard