Antonio Brown, the designer behind the sneaker brand LVL XIII (pronounced Level thirteen) alleges that Louis Vuitton has copied its product signature. Models that make up the French brand’s On The Road footwear collection include nameplates on their toe boxes, an idea popularized by LVL XIII. LVMH has so far not commented.
Like the red sole for Louboutin or the triple stripe for Adidas, LVL XIII distinguishes its footwear with a metal on the front of its designs.
The brand quickly gained recognition among New York journalists and bloggers, before celebrities wearing its shoes began appearing in magazines. Now Louis Vuitton has released its On the road collection, whose sneakers also feature nameplates.
“Buyers were calling me a copycat,” said Antonio Brown in justification of the lawsuit. When people accused him of trying to create buzz, the designer was taken aback. He made his decision to bring the case to trial because Louis Vuitton’s global marketing machine helped it claim credit for the idea.
The French brand has usually found itself on the side of the plaintiff, taking on counterfeiters. This is not, however, the first case of its kind for the brand. In 2009, New Balance contended that its Vuitton’s Minstrel shoe was a rip off of its NB 574 shoe. In the end, the two companies reached a settlement.