Luxury brands are famously persnickity about where their products are sold, how much they’re sold for, and how those items are merchandised — that’s all part of their branding. So it’s not at all surprising that a lot of them — Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc — refuse to partner with flash sale sites like Gilt Group or RueLaLa. And that’s also why, when one of those sites claims to be selling them, like OohILove did with Louis Vuitton, most savvy shoppers raise the red flag and wonder if maybe there isn’t something fishy going on.
To avoid the stink, most of the more reputable sites, like Gilt, RueLaLa, and HauteLook, toe the party line and only source products that come directly from the brands themselves — in other words: they don’t sell brand that don’t want to be sold. Which is why we were especially surprised to read that Cartier – one of the most strictly managed brands out there — is suing Haute Look for $2 million.
According to court documents — of which Fashionista has posted copies — Cartier has accused the e-tailer of selling used products without their permission.
Cartier claimed that HauteLook has sold used Cartier watches despite maintaining on its website that it “never” sells “secondhand merchandise, ever.”
It also said HauteLook has also sold Cartier goods that were damaged, were shipped in the wrong packaging, or carried defaced authenticity certificates, and sometimes included a Cartier warranty booklet though the warranty did not apply.
While Fashionista wonders if this is “a case of a big company picking on a little company,” we’re not so sure. If Haute Look promises, which they do, that their product is coming directly from the brand, and if that isn’t actually the case, then that’s a problem — though less so for Cartier, and more so for the customers. But we don’t blame Cartier for filing suit — that’s all part of managing a luxury brand, and why Cartier is so covetable in the first place.