The shoes in question are sold for over 140 percent of the retail price of genuine Air Force 1 trainers, and Nike alleges that the shoes Drip Creationz is selling are not altered authentic products, but actually counterfeit sneakers. As TFL reports, Nike argues that the shoe measures slightly taller than a real AF1 and that stitching and dimensions are not up to the quality standard of authentic Nike Air Force 1s.
Amassing over 1.1 million followers on Instagram, Drip Creationz has made a name for itself selling customized Air Force 1 (or Air Force 1-esque) sneakers that feature third-party trademarks and images, such as
To summarize the complaint, Nike alleges that Drip Creationz is selling fake Air Force 1s, using logos and third-party trademarks that could potentially confuse customers as to what is a real Nike collaboration, and what is just a custom creation with no connection to the Swoosh.
To understand the significance of the lawsuit, one must also understand the context surrounding it. Nike has previously also waged battles with notorious bootlegger
Nike has been taking considerable measures to protect its trademarks and intellectual property over the past few months and the complaint against Drip Creationz is only the latest chapter in a never-ending saga. Due to its size, influence, and resources, Nike has a good track record when it comes to these kinds of legal battles.
Last year, in the
Staple also mentioned that he can understand the perspective from both sides, and that there is a clear difference between bootlegs, fakes, and original sneakers: “I will say that brands have always pushed the culture forward, and it’s always been uncomfortable for certain parties. No one’s buying a Shoe Surgeon or Warren Lotas shoe to trick their friends. It’s a different thing.”
This is where frustrations lie for both consumers and customizers themselves. After the Warren Lotas lawsuit, a lot of criticism has been directed towards the sportswear giant for continuing to “crush” smaller, independent labels and creators, knowing that their lawsuits could potentially result in the destruction of said brands.
To add another layer of complexity to this issue, Nike has previously paid homage to bootleg and customization culture through its own official releases and collaborations in the past. The Dior x Nike Air Jordan 1 featured an Oblique monogram Swoosh, which has been a staple in bootleg culture, causing people to call out the hypocrisy of it all. Additionally,
Lil Nas X and MSCHF responded in the best way – using humor – posting a tongue-in-cheek picture of a T-shirt with “Legal Fees” printed across, retailing at $66.60 (though the shirt was never sold). Throughout the short-lived legal battle, the rapper posted TikTok videos making fun of the situation, and went so far as to troll the brand in his latest music video prelude for
Nike’s quick legal trigger finger shows that the Swoosh is serious about protecting its intellectual property and that it won’t back down amid public criticism, backlash, and a little lighthearted trolling. The question isn’t whether Nike is in the legal right — of course, it is — but whether its legal moves are contradicted by the work it continues to push with luxury players including Louis Vuitton and Dior, and whether the lawsuits threaten to stifle the creativity the customizing culture has emphasized.
At the moment, it looks like Nike has its focus on the bigger players, who are making serious money altering and ripping off Nike-owned designs. At least for now, hobby creators can continue to paint their shoes as long as they aren’t making too much money from it.