Balenciaga is being sued by a New York merchandise store

Ah, Balenciaga.

Photo credit: Balenciaga


It's eerily similar.

You might already know the tote: it’s glitzy, it sparkles and it’s emblazoned with the words New York alongside the Statue of Liberty. It's a bit tacky and ironic, but we're pretty sure that's what the Balenciaga creative director, Demna Gvasalia, was going for.

If you visited New York City in the early 2000's then you probably picked one of these bad boys up for $19.99 including tax. But almost twenty years later, the Spanish fashion house are selling them for a casual $2,800 a pop.

Always one to push the boundaries when it comes to turning cheap into chic, Gvasalia has landed in hot water over this particular Balenciaga creation, with the company being sued by City Merchandise Inc for copyright infringement. 

The case, which was filed on Friday July 27, 2018, alleges the designs of their New York souvenir tote and Balenciaga’s are basically the same. In fact, according to, they are “virtually indistinguishable”. 

Photo credit: Balenciaga

Photo credit: Balenciaga

A photo from the official complaint filing. Image credit: Southern District of New York court via Fashionista

The case also states Balenciaga’s penchant for taking other designs and making them their own as problematic and standard practice for the company. “Based upon its dubious reputation in the fashion industry for appropriating the work of others, as well as public statements attributed to Mr. Gvasalia, it should not be surprising that Defendant has copied Plaintiffs Design in connection with the infringing Products and is passing it off as its own,” the filing reads.

A quick glance at the two designs will make it clear that there’s definitely a little more than ‘inspiration’ going on, but Gvasalia has been open about his desire to take from other brands and appropriate things he deems beautiful — a concept some might say is revolutionary, but others illegal. “What is a source, what is an influence, what is a copy? The answers are difficult to define,” he said in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year. 

Balenciaga, who are owned by the Kering group, are yet to comment on the case. 

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