Just when you thought 25 years might be enough time for mainstream fashion designers to forget they ever tried to borrow from Seattle’s memorable grunge aesthetic, a $115 T-shirt emerges from the lost laundry pile.
Nirvana, the definitive band from the 1990s era that spawned an angsty musical style and flannel-clad fashions to go with it, is suing designer Marc Jacobs, claiming he stole the band’s trademarked “smiley face” design.
Jacobs has released a Redux Grunge Collection to celebrate runway work that he did in 1993 for Perry Ellis. “The looks are a testament to the brazenness and timelessness of Marc’s vision, and are as relevant today as they were revolutionary 25 years ago,” reads a description on Jacobs’s website. “Because what the world needs now is Grunge.”
The Bootleg Grunge Tee, which has the word HEAVEN printed above the squiggly face, “sure smells like teen spirit,” says the description for the item in a cringeworthy nod to Nirvana’s biggest hit. At $115, it’s “designed to feel like a thrift store find.”
Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom was among those selling items from the collection.
The Fashion Law reported that the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court, was brought by Nirvana, LLC, a legal entity formed in September 1997 by surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, and the estate for late frontman Kurt Cobain, controlled by his wife Courtney Love. The complaint argues that “Cobain created Nirvana’s Smiley Face logo in 1991 and ‘Nirvana has used that copyright-protected design and logo continuously since [then] to identify its music.'”
Nirvana has “licensed its copyrighted logo on literally dozens of different T-shirts, shirts, hats, hoodies, bags, backpacks, glasses, wallets, and other items of merchandise, many of which have sold extensively for decades,” The Fashion Law quoted the complaint as saying.
Indeed, a visit to shop.nirvana.com shows the logo on a variety of items, including Christmas ornaments and beer glasses.