Victoria's Secret Stores Inc. and their parent company, Limited Brands Inc., are being sued by Zephyrs for $15 million since they have allegedly been selling "knockoffs" to their own customers, according to WWD.
It might sound strange at first, but the company is saying that VS is breaching a 2001 agreement and selling cheaper products to their customers.
Zephyrs is a hosiery supplier to the chain and says that VS is no longer buying using their product in their stores, but still using Zephyr product pictures to sell their hosiery.
"Victoria's Secret changed the product in the packaging but didn't change anything else except Made in Canada on the back of the package. It used to say Made in Italy," Joseph Gioconda said to WWD.
He is the principal of Manhattan-based Gioconda Law Group PLLC and is representing Zephyrs. Gioconda explained a complaint was revealed Friday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, where the Limited (NYSE: LTD) headquarters is located.
Gioconda told WWD that Victoria's Secret has sold "at least $120 million worth of Zephyrs-designed product throughout all 50 states, through the Victoria's Secret chain of retail stores, the Victoria's Secret print catalogue and the popular Victoria's Secret Web site" since 2001.
"We are planning to proceed and will be serving papers to Victoria's Secret and The Limited as well as other Victoria's Secret entities. They will have 21 days to respond," said Gioconda.
Included in the breach of contract according to Zephyrs are unfair competition, false advertising and consumer fraud in California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Ohio.
The suit also wants VS to fix the advertising of their product and recall the products that reportedly have cheaper lace trims, irregular borders, missing heel reinforcements and less durable construction; WWD said.
The hosiery Zephyr is suing over is VS's Lace Top Fish Net Stockings, Fish Net Thigh-Highs With Backseam and a Signature Stripe Thigh-High With Bows, which normally sell from $16 to $18 WWD said.
Victoria's Secret officials have not yet commented on the matter.
"I contacted them by e-mail and had a conference call with senior management, but they never called back....When I was in Chicago in March 2012, I went to a Victoria's Secret store and picked up a package and saw it said Made in Canada. The product inside was drastically different than what [the image] was on the package," Debra Mackinnon told WWD when she picked up a pair of VS hosiery.
She is the owner and president of Spring Lake, N.J.-based Zephyrs and said imposter VS products may have still been on the shelves last week.