An ice cream brand’s parody on one of the hottest streetwear brands has gone awry.
Off-White filed a lawsuit against California-based ice cream brand Afters Ice Cream in November, alleging that the company was selling merchandise that featured well-known trademarks coined by the streetwear pioneer’s founder Virgil Abloh.
An article by The Fashion Law states that Afters Ice Cream founders Scott Nghiem and Andy Nguyen—both of whom the publication cited as having a background in apparel—dropped merchandise consisting of T-shirts and sweatshirts for their company that include diagonal stripe motifs and other elements that resembled Off-White’s branding.
Off-White caught wind of the apparel and claimed trademark infringement. “The Off-White brand has been recognized for its distinctive graphic and logo-heavy apparel designs, including a unique design mark comprised of alternating parallel diagonal lines, which has been used on or in connection with Off-White products since at least as early as 2013,” Off-White alleged in its November filing.
The items in question include store signage, along with a black T-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt and a hoodie with the phrase “Off-Diet.” The garments have similarly placed diagonal white stripes along the sides and on the back.
Though the designs are undeniably similar, Afters Ice Cream is now asserting that it was all a joke—and that argument may stand in court.
The Fashion Law indicated that the “parody” allegation “could be a relevant argument,” since the ice cream company included additional elements in its merchandise and “did not copy-and-paste the Off-White name and striped branding for its T-shirts and sweatshirts on its own.”
The Fashion Law noted that Afters Ice Cream denied trademark infringement and claimed a lack of damages to the Off-White brand, essentially claiming that even if it did use the brand’s trademark, it didn’t cause Off-White’s brand power to diminish as a result.
Global search platform Lyst named Off-White the most frequently searched brand in early 2020. A year prior, the label found itself in a similar situation with shoelace bracelets company Rastaclat, along with its retail partners Zumiez, Finish Line and Amazon.
Off-White’s legal team claimed that the companies intentionally sold infringing products that resulted in a “substantial monetary loss and irreparable injury.” The products in this case featured red zip-ties and quotation marks that have come to be associated with the streetwear label.
The companies reached a settlement three months later, and the lawsuit was eventually dismissed.