Victoria’s Secret Handed A $15M Lawsuit For Misleading Packaging
Victoria’s Secret has just been slapped with a $15 million lawsuit by its former hosiery supplier Zephyrs. The company alleges that Victoria’s Secret and its parent company Limited Brands Inc. breached a 2001 contract, and are selling three cheap legwear products with images of Zephyrs-designed hosiery on the packaging.
New Jersey-based Zephyrs filed the suit on August 10 in Columbus, Ohio, where Victoria’s Secret is headquartered. The suit alleges that Victoria’s Secret contacted Zephyrs’s suppliers and falsely advertised the hosiery, which is a violation of federal and state consumer protection laws, and counts as consumer fraud in five states, including California, New York, and Ohio. In addition to $15 million, the suit requests that Victoria’s Secret correct the false packaging and in-store displays, and issue a recall for the Lace Top Fish Net Stockings, Fish Net Thigh-Highs With Backseam, and Signature Stripe Thigh-High With Bows.
Zephyrs’s lawyer Joseph Gioconda of Gioconda Law Group PLLC explains to WWD:
“Victoria’s Secret changed the product in the packaging but didn’t change anything else except Made in Canada on the back of the package. It used to say Made in Italy. [It sold] at least $120 million worth of Zephyrs-designed product throughout all 50 states, through the Victoria’s Secret chain of retail stores, the Victoria’s Secret print catalogue and the popular Victoria’s Secret Web site. We are planning to proceed and will be serving papers to Victoria’s Secret and The Limited as well as other Victoria’s Secret entities. They will have 21 days to respond.”
Zephyrs owner Debra Mackinnon was notified of a “business change” by a German lace supplier in 2011.
“I contacted them [VS] by e-mail and had a conference call with senior management, but they never called back….When I was in Chicago in March 2012, I went to a Victoria’s Secret store and picked up a package and saw it said Made in Canada. The product inside was drastically different than what [the image] was on the package.”
Mackinnon claims that Victoria’s Secret has been trying to force her to sign a new master sourcing agreement in which she hands over all of her company’s intellectual property and signs a non-compete clause that would keep her from selling to third parties. This, she explains, would put Zephyrs out of business.
Victoria’s Secret officials couldn’t be reached for comment. Check out the different hosiery below, and tell us your thoughts: