Kering Eyewear is the target of a lawsuit brought by a U.S.-based retailer and wholesaler specializing in luxury eyewear, Selima Optique, with four stores in the New York area and one in Paris, which is questioning the origin of its products. Inviting others to join in the complaint, filed on June 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit claims “false advertising, unfair competition, negligent representation, fraud and unjust enrichment.” It requests a jury trial.
The reason given for the charges is the fact that Selima received last February, following an order placed with Kering Eyewear last October for various models, a package in which a YSL frame was labelled as “Made in China” on one temple and “Made in Italy” on the other temple.
When asked for explanations, Kering said it was a manufacturing mistake. A spokesperson for Kering Eyewear told us that the two temples and the two labels were actually meant for different glasses. They were mounted in the company's distribution center in the Veneto region of Italy and stamped with a label of origin for shipment to countries where such as a label is required, such as the U.S., she said, adding that one of the two stamps was destined to a pair of glasses manufactured in China under the Puma brand name.
Only 21 glasses made in Italy were sent out to clients with this double labelling, she said in a telephone interview, declining to make a written statement in behalf of Kering Eyewear. The products were recalled and replaced. All the clients accepted the company's apologies except for Selima Optique, which filed the suit after months of discussions.
In its lawsuit, the client said that Kering Eyewear is leading consumers to reasonably believe that its products are actually made in Italy. “In truth,” however, the “defendants' products or substantially all parts of their products are made in China, and (at best) shipped to Italy for final assembly and packaging and then exported,” according to Selima.
Insisting that all the glasses sold by Kering Eyewear are made in Italy, except for the Puma collection, the spokeswoman said her company produced evidence to this effect, but it was apparently not enough to assuage Selima's suspicions. She said her company would defend its rights in court.
Selima Optique is the creature of Selima Salaun, a licensed optician trained in Paris who ran Alain Mikli's New York store before setting up her eponymous firm.