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Hello Trellos, Goodbye Crocs?

Trellos vs. Crocs

News of yet another knockoff of the all too ubiquitous Croc should come as no surprise, which is why the ever-alert Fashionista initially chose not to sound the alarm.  What sets these particular low-end copies apart, however, is that they are a house brand for Lands' End, which also sells Crocs

Why would a leading retailer try to cut the tail off of one of its own suppliers?  In all likelihood, Lands' End figured that doing so was a no-lose proposition.  On the one hand, offering a proprietary version could draw in beach-bound customers looking for a cheaper or new design.  If the customer likes the Trellos, Lands' End benefits from increased sales at a higher profit margin for the in-store brand.  Conversely, should the customer prefer the Crocs, Lands' End still chalks up a sale that might have otherwise gone to a competitor.

This strategy is not particularly innovative, as evidenced by the various house brands available at grocery and department stores.  What makes the Trellos particularly daring is Crocs' well known propensity to sue for infringement of its utility and design patents as well as trade dress.   Lands' End has taken a small step toward protecting itself by making slight variations in the Trellos' design, but perhaps the biggest thing protecting Lands' End is the likelihood that Crocs would not dare put the bite on one of its largest retailers.