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Selima Optique accuses Kering of fraud

Eyewear boutique Selima Optique has filed a lawsuit against Kering, accusing the French luxury goods holding company of false advertising, unfair competition and fraud for claiming its China-produced eyewear had been made in Italy.

The lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Manhattan, New York, and includes defendants Kering Eyewear and Kering Eyewear USA.

Kering owns brands including Alexander McQueen, Gucci and YSL.

Selima Optique, which owns stores in California, New York, Santa Monica and Paris, says in the complaint that while the products are labelled as having been made in Italy, “in truth, their products, or substantially all parts of their products, are made in China, and (at best) shipped to Italy for final assembly and packaging, and then exported”.

According to the complaint, Italy passed a law in 2009 stipulating that only goods “entirely made” in the country are allowed to use the label “Made In Italy”.

Calling Kering’s practice a “bait-and-switch scheme”, Selima Optique claims the company has been engaging in the deceitful practice since September, when it established Kering Eyewear to design and distribute eyewear products.

In the class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of eyewear manufacturers, the plaintiff claims the deceptive packaging and labelling of Kering-branded products has harmed wholesalers and retail consumers who have been cheated into paying premium prices for goods that are not entitled to the price tag.

In the filing document, Selima Optique reveals how it uncovered the alleged misconduct. On February 9, the boutique chain received a package with YSL-branded eyeglass frames but found a “Made In China” mark on one side and “Made In Italy” mark on the other. When it contacted Kering Eyewear, the company was told it was a manufacturing mistake.

While the luxury group has yet to file an answer to the complaint, it has denied all allegations.

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