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Lawyer Who Sued Madonna Going After Ferragamo and Paige Denim

Salvatore Ferragamo is one of Italy’s best-known brands. So why would its belt buckles, distributed at top-flight retailers Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, become “discolored and tainted” in a matter of a few months?

That’s the allegation and the question posed in a potential $5 million class action lawsuit filed in a Florida U.S. District Court last month.

Four Florida residents lead the complaint which seeks class action certification on behalf of consumers nationwide who say the buckles on the Ferragamo Belts, particularly the buckle of the Gancini belt, which goes for nearly $300 online, “quickly become discolored and/or tarnished, ruining the aesthetic purpose behind purchasing such a purportedly ‘high quality designer accessory,’’’ the complaint reads. “This discoloration and/or tarnishing occurs regardless of the way in which customers use and care for the Belt Buckles and cannot be blamed on the consumers—it is a defect in the design or manufacturing.”

The suit asserts that the belt buckle purchased by one of the four principal plaintiffs—James McGriff, of Deerfield Beach in Broward County—was never even worn once.

The Gancini belt buckle

On top of that, plaintiffs claim, their attempts to return the belts were met with requests for more money to replace the buckles by a Ferragamo vendor, which cost up to $200 more and two to six months of wait time just to have a new buckle installed, according to attorney Marcus Corwin, himself a Ferragamo customer and, for the most part, avid fan.

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“I love Ferragamo products—I wear their belts, shoes—it’s a great brand,” Corwin said. “What came to our attention was, with certain types of belts, the iconic buckle was wearing and tarnishing—the finish was coming off. It didn’t look very attractive.”

Corwin, a jurist with more than a quarter-century of experience and $100 million in class action winnings, got his taste for consumer advocacy law in 2019 when he sued Madonna and promoter Live Nation for the Material Girl being two hours late to shows, and staff taking away fans’ cell phones at the arena so they couldn’t even call for rides home.

It’s no coincidence that the four primary plaintiffs all made their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores in Florida, where there is no deluge of fine print at the end of each purchase as there is online.

The expectation of the plaintiffs is that if a judge, who in this case is the Honorable Aileen Cannon, the same judge who ordered a special master in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against former President Donald Trump for keeping classified documents at his Mar-A-Lago Resort, certifies class action status, recruitment of class action plaintiffs could include those who purchased online as well.

Corwin said he doesn’t believe the problematic belts are the result of a newer bad batch.

“It’s been going for a while,” he said, adding that it is not the plaintiff’s burden in such a case to prove the science behind the malfunction. “I don’t want to say it’s the chrome plating, but it tends to be the chrome-plated [Gancini] belts.”

Paige’s Sabine style from The Nines collection is made with Transcend denim fabric.

But why would a brand so disregard the service of its customers, as claimed in the filing?

“Some brands are so arrogant they don’t care,” Corwin said. “Though I qualify that by saying I’m only referring to Ferragamo; I don’t believe Saks or Neiman are arrogant in that regard.”

Last week, Corwin filed a similar lawsuit against the designer jeans brand Paige. Again in Florida District Court, and again before presiding judge Cannon, Corwin represents five consumers who complain that the “supposedly luxurious” denim fabric warps and ‘puckers,’ creating ripples across the surface of the jeans which in turn renders the jeans unsightly, aesthetically unappealing, and ultimately useless for their intended purpose as luxury fashionwear.”

In this case four of the five principal plaintiffs hail from different states—Florida, Michigan, Texas and two from California—and all but the Texas plaintiff purchased their jeans from a Nordstrom store. None purchased their jeans online.

The fine print in this case alleging breach of implied warranty of merchantability and unjust enrichment, by Paige and its main wholesaler Nordstrom, Corwin argues, is the care label, which tells wearers to hand-wash only and to not put their jeans in the dryer.

In court documents, Corwin contends none of his clients put their jeans in the dryer.

“With certain products in the Paige product line, Transcend, particularly, there is a problem with the spandex. Our evidence shows whether they put them in the dryer or not, handwash or not, particularly the Transcend [model] will pucker and pull,” Corwin said. “Once they do that, it doesn’t go back. For a lot of people it seems to happen in the crotch or where the crotch meets the leg.”

The product description for the Sabine style from Paige’s The Nines collection says the low-rise silhouette is made from 54 percent rayon, 23 percent cotton, 22 percent polyester, and 1 percent spandex.

In both cases, Corwin said, more attention to customer service could have saved all parties from being dragged into court.

“A history of inquiry had been made and it came back ‘bad luck of the consumer; bad CSR (customer service representative),” Corwin said. “We laughed. Bad luck for the consumer or the company? Had the company handled it right or differently, there would not be a class action against Paige.”

Corwin said the deadline given for Paige and Nordstrom to respond to the $5 million suit has been extended to Feb. 17.

Attorneys for Ferragamo did not respond immediately to Sourcing Journal’s requests for comment. Paige didn’t immediately return a request for comment.