The Fashion Statement: Hells Angels V. Alexander McQueen
When would Hells Angels and Alexander McQueen be used in the same sentence? Before yesterday I would have said when hell freezes over.
But Wednesday, the notoriously aggressive biker gang you see in barroom brawls targeted another enemy: the fashion industry. Hells Angels filed a suit in California federal court claiming that Alexander McQueen and retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos.com are selling four-finger rings, clutches and clothing featuring the motorcycle club's "Deathhead" skull and wings logo. The Hells Angels skull and wings logo has been around since 1948 and that's a trademark infringement, the club maintains.
Saks.com had been selling McQueen's "Hells Four-Finger Ring" for $495, but the retailer took the ring off the site when news of the suit broke. On Net-A-Porter.com, you can still find McQueen's "Hells Knuckleduster Box Clutch" selling for $2,325.
"If you've got one of these rings on, a member might get really upset that you're an imposter," Hells Angels lawyer Fritz Clapp told New York Post. The paper made special note that the attorney is an L.A. based biker and sports a red mohawk.
According to court papers, the suit states that the Deathhead skull logos "evoke strong and immediate reactions whenever used . . . and as a result they have great commercial value."
The fashion companies named in the suit stayed mum on the claims. On the other hand, biker blogs and others sent up a collective rebel yell. One blog said "the McQueen label even had the audacity" to use the name Hells in the product's name while the website Clutch & Chrome likened the kerfuffle to "some teenage comedy."
"When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets," or so goes the Hells Angels motto. "When our brand gets co-opted by corporations looking to play off of our rich, violent history without any of the danger inherent in the actual lifestyle of being a tattooed, bearded member of a motorcycle gang who regularly participates in illegal activities, nobody forgets."
According to a little research on the Net, you can only be a member of Hells Angels if you're male. And Hells Angels merch is sold primarily in biker shops and places like eBay motors. I challenge you to find a glamazon within ten miles of a biker shop. So in defense of McQueen, Saks and Zappos, I ask you: How else can a girl get to sport some skulls and wings?