Update (13th March):
On Friday 8th March, amid lawsuit controversy, Marc Jacob has denied using grunge band Nirvana's iconic smiley logo on the brand's Bootleg Redux Grunge collection. According to Pitchfork, lawyers for the fashion house filed a motion for dismissal in a California federal court, arguing that the brand did not copy elements of the band's happy face.
Instead, the document states, Jacobs was drawing "inspiration from the looks that his friends were wearing in downtown Manhattan and in the Pacific Northwest," and that the designer has been "inspired by grunge style" and incorporated grunge references throughout his career.
We'll update this story as it unfolds.
This story was originally published 31st December 2018.
When designer Marc Jacobs announced that he would be reissuing the infamous Bootleg Redux Grunge collection that made his name and got him fired from Perry Ellis back in 1993, we were beyond thrilled. Now, it seems the collection has landed the designer in a spot of trouble.
According to reports, Nirvana, LCC (the legal unit founded in September 1997 by Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and the Courtney Love-controlled Cobain Estate) has handed a lawsuit to the brand, claiming that the T-shirt “infringed Nirvana’s copyright, misleadingly used Nirvana’s trademarks, and utilized other elements with which Nirvana is widely associated to make it appear that Nirvana has endorsed or is otherwise associated with” the reissued collection.
You may be questioning why the band's representatives are coming down hard on Marc Jacobs, when fast-fashion retailers have been using Kurt Cobain's 1991 yellow hand-drawn logo on T-shirts for years. Well, unlike the likes of H&M and Urban Outfitters, allegedly Marc Jacobs did not receive authorization or pay a license fee to use Nirvana’s intellectual property.
The product description on the brand's site also alludes to the band's lyrics. "This exclusive piece from the 1993 Grunge collection was created by Marc Jacobs during his time at Perry Ellis. This bootleg smiley tee sure smells like teen spirit."
The T-shirt sits alongside checked shirts, cropped cardigans and biker boots, all pieces from the original Perry Ellis collection, which Jacobs re-released in November. He said (via press release) of the collection: "The ‘Grunge’ collection epitomized the first time in my professional career I was unwavering in my determination to see my vision come to life on the runway, without creative compromise."
Despite being criticized on social media for the smiley T-shirt, Marc Jacobs has yet to respond to the reports.