It is hard for some stars to think of good, unused brand names when they start a fashion or skincare business. Hailey Bieber is the latest
Hailey Beiber dappled with her own Rhode skin cream. Photo: rhode/Instagram
Is it a coincidence? Did she check? Did she bother? When we first heard of Hailey Bieber launching her all-new skincare brand called Rhode last week, we did not think much of it, but did wonder if it was a collaboration with the fashion brand of the same name. Now, the owners of the New York-based womenswear label Rhode (not Rhude) is suing the model “for trademark infringement”, according to American media reports. Born Hailey Rhode Baldwin (she’s the niece of actor Alec Baldwin), Mrs Bieber decided to call her barely-a-week-old skincare line by her middle name. According to TMZ, she had, in fact, tried to “acquire the Rhode trademark” (in 2018, we learned), but the co-founders and co-owners Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers flatly rejected the offer.
Rhode the fashion label was founded in 2014, according to their website, and the designers create “pieces (that) are made for eating pasta and hitting the dance floor” or pleasing, feminine everyday wear for “the woman who relishes discovering something exceptional”. Or, Kelly Clarkson. Rhode, according to its designers, are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Ms Khatau and Ms Vickers reportedly told the media: “we cannot overcome a celebrity with Hailey’s following using our company’s name to sell related products.” Additionally, they told the press that Netizens have been tagging Mrs Bieber’s skincare brand mistakenly rather than the clothing label, which, to them, illustrates consumer confusion. Might Mrs Bieber have avoided this quandary if she changed, say, a vowel in the name, and made it Rhude? Oh, but that’s taken too!
It is not entirely clear why Hailey Bieber would want to use her middle name, even when she is not known by it on a regular basis. When we spoke to people around us, not a single person knew her to be a Rhode. The common rejoinder: “Do you mean Rhode Island?” Or, is using one’s name just easier—it frees one from thinking too much about what to call a brand? Surely there are enough proper nouns (assuming she was looking at specific names) for her to pick that are not already used. According to TMZ, someone linked to her said, “she owns the trademark for skincare, and the other Rhode holds the trademark for clothing”. But, are they both not in the business of improving one’s outward appearance (and a fashion brand isn’t allowed to launch a skincare line)? As one marketing manager said to us, “It’s not like one sells diamonds, the other dung.”