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The designers behind Mansur Gavriel are defending themselves against claims of copying by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, another New York-based designer who accused the duo of ripping off her shoe designs. Shortly after Mansur Gavriel debuted their brand-new shoe line during New York Fashion Week, Nassir Zadeh went public with her complaints that the Mansur Gavriel shoes are "seemingly exact replicas" of her mules in both form and color.
That's a coincidence, according to Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel. The duo just issued a statement about the controversy to Business of Fashion. They write:
Recently it has come to our attention that fellow New York City brand Maryam Nassir Zadeh is claiming similarities between her designs and our newly launched Spring/Summer 2016 shoe collection. This deeply saddens us as any similarity is completely coincidental. Our line has been developed and designed over a period of 18 months, drawing inspiration from classic shoe silhouettes and the iconic colours and materials of our handbag collection.
Mansur Gavriel was founded in 2012 with a dedication to providing clean, classic handbag designs crafted in the highest quality Italian leathers. It is our design philosophy and concept to concentrate on a few classical shapes in a wide array of colours and materials. That same philosophy guided us in designing our shoe collection which consists of 4 styles, 5 heel heights, 2 fabrications and 16 colors, resulting in 320 SKUs. The colours selected for this collection all tie back to the interior and exterior colors of our core handbag collection, which has been on the market since June 2013.
We respect Maryam Nassir Zadeh as a designer and retailer, and are customers of her store. However, we believe that neither she nor we can claim ownership of a mule or slide or block heel or color, for that matter. We are well aware of rampant imitation of young designers in the marketplace and have personally experienced this many times. However, we are also well aware we do not own the silhouette of the bucket bag or the tote.
This doesn't seem to be over, though. Nassir Zadeh dug up receipts from her store tracing four shoe purchases from Gavriel and Mansur in the last two years and shared them with BoF. She told the site: "For me, this is clear proof that they had my designs as a reference to develop their shoe line by emulating my shapes, materials and colours."
The Fashion Law writes that Nassir Zadeh's slides and mules are too common a shoe to be protected under copyright law, and BoF's legal experts agree, noting that perhaps Nassir Zadeh's complaints on social media could be the best and most cost-effective defense. "In the absence of a solid legal right, designers engage in a series of self-help remedies. One those remedies is social shaming, attempting to embarrass the other designer," Susan Scafidi, the founder of Fordham University's Fashion Law Institute told BoF. "It’s effective and certainly less expensive. Maryam has gotten sympathy from this." But in light of Mansur Gavriel's best-selling handbags, it's a campaign that might not be able to sway retailers away from MG's new shoe line.