Depending on how knowledgeable about high end (over priced) jean makers you are, you may or may not know who Citizens of Humanity actually is. Or, perhaps the only place you have ever actually seen their jeans, much like me, is in Costco. Nonetheless, they are suing Costco for ruining their reputation; ‘goodwill’ in legal terms.
Here’s kind of the brief, sketchy version, as far as I understand it. Citizens of Humanity makes jeans for men and women that retail quite high, like $200.00 – $300.00 high, at stores such as Barney’s, Nordstrom’s, and high end clothing boutiques. Costco purchased a large enough shipment of their jeans from a third-party distributor to sell at their stores. I’ve read several blog posts about people spotting them at their Costco’s and I know that I saw them at one too. Anyway, at Costco they were selling for $104.99. Clearly, the price discrepancy is sizable. So, Citizens of Humanity requested that Costco tell them who they purchased the jeans from and when Costco wouldn’t, they sued. So, the original judge said ‘no’ to the whole thing, but on appeal, the California Appellate court allowed them to kind of work the legal system to say that Costco was selling stolen goods; that must be it since they wouldn’t say where they got the jeans. Costco says telling this is one of their trade secrets. So, the case goes on. You can read the rather dry ruling online (yes, it is your lucky day). However, if you’d like to read a law professor’s summary of what the ruling actually says, which is more interesting, you can find that online too. His take is that they are saying Costco is selling stolen goods as a way of gaining access to the name of the distributor via discovery.
So, I think this whole suit is kind of ridiculous for several reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t think they’re suing all retailers that have low prices on their jeans or that are maybe not up to their high standards. For instance, I’ve read in forums online that you can also buy the jeans at TJ Maxx, which seems lower end than Costco to me. And they are selling them at an online place called ‘shopbop.com’ that probably isn’t exactly in the Barney’s league either. Not to mention, you can buy them at Barney’s online for below $200.00 and some of them are even on sale for as little as $69.00. Though, I’m sure those are last season’s and no one would be caught dead in them.
Okay, I’ve got to admit I scoff a little at things like this because I think, that much money for a pair of jeans seems like thievery. They don’t look that spectualarly worth it to me. But I don’t buy a lot of jeans and I definitely don’t buy jeans for that much money. I can freely admit that I am not completely super fashionable, or any kind of fashionable probably at all. Of course, I get that it is hard to find a comfortable pair of jeans and if these fit you perfectly, and you wear them often, the price isn’t so bad; assuming they don’t fall apart after a couple of washings. However, I also think that if other very high end or exclusive brands such as Cartier, Kate Spade, Coach, Waterford, Rado, Chopard, or Niman Ranch are sold at Costco, these people making jeans shouldn’t be so disgusted by the company they might be keeping in the Costco warehouse. Perhaps they should just be glad that their product is being given a wider audience and may attract more buyers via this new outlet of sale.