Our favorite fashion lawsuits aren’t the ones concerned with cheap fast fashion knockoffs. Rather, we sit up and pay attention when luxury in-fighting heads to court. After all, that’s where the protracted, high-profile battles wage — just look at Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent. Besides those two, there are plenty of designer court battles to go around, with the latest just begun in Paris, where Hermès has filed suit against LVMH.
The family-owned, iconic French luxury house just announced that it has filed a complaint in a Parisian court over the way LVMH bought a substantial amount of stock in the company two years ago. In taking over 22.3 percent of Hermès, the luxury conglomerate circumvented various conventions, with the most important being the disclosure — or lack thereof — of its actual stock purchases. What’s interesting here is that the three families who collectively own most of Hermès International were already granted the right to form a separate holding company, more or less for the purpose of keeping LVMH out.
H51, the holding company successfully formed in December of 2011, all but guarantees the families’ control of Hermès. Thus, at this point, the counter-suit that accuses LVMH of insider trading and stock price manipulation seems like an act of further self-protection. Though LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault has repeatedly claimed he’s not trying to take over Hermès, going on the offensive is probably a wise idea. While from the outside, it’s hard not to see the suit as a version of Goliath vs. Goliath, it’s also easy to side with the Dumas, Puech, and Guerrand clans (the Hermès ownership), in favor of family-owned heritage brands successfully staying, well, in the family — and out of a conglomerate’s hands.