One need not be an avid sneakers fan — or sneakerheads, as the kids call them — to point out that sneakers by Indonesian brands Ventela and Saba are highly identical to American shoemaker Vans’ Old Skool classic skate shoe.
The three brands are being hotly discussed among Indonesian sneakerheads recently, after the Californian lifestyle brand allegedly took down Instagram posts of sneakers copying their design, chief among them being those produced by the aforementioned Indonesian brands. Many sneakerheads have long alleged that Ventela, a popular local sneakers brand, plagiarized Vans’ iconic white sidestripe.
This controversy began on Sunday, when several users posted screenshots of posts that were taken down from Instagram due to copyright infringements after they were flagged by Vans. The second photo below shows that one of the photos violated Vans’ trademark design, specified as “BR – Side Strip Class 25.”
wkwkwkwkw ventela kena sama vans us pic.twitter.com/cOaFWbbcqp
— howtodressvvell is suspended, this is the 2nd acc (@howtodresvvell) April 26, 2020
A number of Ventela resellers on Instagram then said that their posts were taken down while some others were unable to access their accounts, such as Indra, who owns the Yogyakarta-based shoe store @exploseco_.
Indra told Kumparan today that he couldn’t access his account and had his posts taken down on Sunday — though the account is up and running again at the time of writing.
He created another account and requested assistance from Ventela during that time, while also suggesting his fellow resellers to archive all Ventela-related posts.
Ventela responded to the controversy yesterday through a series of Instagram stories, stating that their logo design has been registered to the Directorate General of Intellectual Property under Indonesia’s Law and Human Rights Ministry prior to production. The registry of the logo, which bears uncanny resemblance to Vans’ sidestripe, can be seen here.
“Resellers do not have to worry about what happened. Maybe there are parties that mind our design and it’s something common in the business world, it’s their right and we can’t forbid it. What we do is fulfill administrative requirements and not break the law,” a statement from Ventela reads.
On the other hand (or foot, in this case), Saba, which appears to be a much smaller brand than Ventela, hasn’t released any statement regarding the controversy. As their latest Instagram post was from early January, it isn’t immediately clear if the brand is still running or otherwise.
Ventela has also been accused of plagiarizing classic Converse sneakers for their Back to 70’s collection. In addition, they also allegedly copied the brand’s collaboration piece with Comme des Garçons PLAY, the luxury streetwear subsidiary line of Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons, which is famous for its heart-shaped logo with two eyes.
Wkwkwk CDG Cimahi Des Garçons pic.twitter.com/EehJy83ikG
— Pegawhy (@msofyan) January 5, 2020
Ventela was first introduced in 2017 by William Ventela, who owns a vulcanized shoe factory in the West Java capital of Bandung that has been operating since 1989. Meanwhile, Vans is usually the first brand that comes to mind whenever we’re talking about skateboarding, and sneakers in general, since the brand’s conception in 1966.
A debate surrounding local footwear brands’ originality has actually been raging among Indonesian sneakerheads since last year. Many who appreciate originality have questioned some Indonesian brands’ “local pride” slogan, which is usually thrown around — whether genuinely or sarcastically — by those who prefer to wear locally-made shoes out of pride instead of sneakers made by international brands.
Now, the question remains: can sneakerheads claim pride for local brands when the latter continue to plagiarize legendary shoes? Because, if we call it like it is, this is not the first time that local businesses sought to profit from globally renowned trademarks by claiming them as their own thanks to loopholes in local trademark laws (remember Superman wafers VS DC Comics?).