It had been 11 unsettled years since Ms. Irgit moved from Turkey to New York, with $300 in her pocket and a vague dream of making a life in one of the city’s creative industries. She became part of a downtown class of trendsetters who all seemed to have a purpose.
On the Montauk sand, Ms. Irgit was playing paddle ball with a friend, the restaurateur Serge Becker, when he complimented her striking bikini. As Ms. Irgit would later put it, this was the spark that motivated her to start a business. Why not create more of these distinctive bathing suits? Why not become a bikini-maker?
Sales were unremarkable until January, when Ms. Irgit’s product got its first significant Instagram plug. The model Dree Hemingway posed provocatively by a surfboard in a bikini with dark panels and green-and-orange detailing. She captioned: “Thank you for my Kiini!!”
“I was, like, bombarded,” Ms. Irgit said. “That was it.”
By 2015, Ms. Irgit’s suit had brought in approximately $9 million
In 2015, she was particularly inflamed by the introduction of a faux-Kiini made by Victoria’s Secret. That October, in the central district of California, her lawyers filed a federal lawsuit accusing the company of copyright infringement. It called for Victoria’s Secret to stop selling the swimwear and pay damages.
The lawsuit was a mismatch — teeny Kiini versus vast Victoria — but Ms. Irgit was scrappy. At one point, she surreptitiously recorded a meeting with a former Victoria’s Secret swimwear designer. Then Kiini’s lawyers deposed the designer
For an upstart brand, one lawsuit was rare. A second was unheard of. Kiini’s litigiousness brought Ms. Irgit unwanted attention — and revealed that even the tiniest two-piece can hide a lot of secrets.
Thursday, December 20, 2018
"The Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie, Very Litigious Bikini"
Labels: advertising, clothing, intellectual property