Nike is continuing its efforts to snuff out bootleggers by targeting a brand that specializes in cutesy Air Force 1 knockoffs. Drip Creationz has more than 1 million followers on Instagram and sells nothing but fake Air Force 1 with adornments including hearts, butterflies, and flowers.
Unlike other brands that have drawn legal action from Nike in the past year, Drip Creationz sneakers are made in vast quantities as opposed to limited-edition releases. Dozens of different pairs can be purchased from its website for prices ranging from $100 to $180, including one made for Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour (and without her permission either, it seems).
Nike’s lawsuit, filed in a California federal court Monday, accuses Drip Creationz of trademark infringement and dilution, as well as counterfeiting and other charges, The Fashion Law reports. The company frames the sneakers as “knockoff Air Force 1-style shoes” with “crooked proportions, messy stitching, cheap details, and [are] taller than real Air Force 1 shoes.”
Customs or bootlegs? — Drip Creationz says its sneakers are handmade in California and bills them as 100-percent authentic customs. According to Nike, however, the company’s method is to “deconstruct” real Air Force 1s and “replace and/or add material [to those] shoes” to be “materially altered in ways Nike has never approved or authorized.”
These acts of reconstruction, or customizing, are similar to what MSCHF did for its Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes” earlier this year. After Nike filed suit, the two parties eventually agreed to a settlement in which terms included a voluntary recall for the sneakers as well as a buy-back program for the previously released “Jesus Shoes.”
Nike accuses Drip Customz of going “out of its way to deceive customers into falsely believing that they are purchasing genuine Nike products and/or that Nike has authenticated or approved of Drip Creationz’s products, in order to trade off of Nike’s brand and goodwill.” It also says the company has been harmed by consumer confusion and interference with its ability “to choose who it collaborates with, which colorways it releases, and what message its designs convey.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages in an amount to be determined at trial, as well as an injunctive relief to prevent Drip Creationz from selling any more products that infringe upon Nike’s rights.
When Nike sued Warren Lotas and successfully stopped him from making more bootleg Dunks, the designer and many fans accused Nike of bullying creators for making legitimate artforms. What Drip Creationz is doing may be harder to argue as having artistic value, but Nike is still trying to mitigate the blowback by saying in the suit that “it has no desire to limit the individual expression of creatives and artisans, many of whom are some of Nike’s biggest fans.”