Would you fork out a five-figure sum to buy a paperclip? What if we tell you that the paperclip in question is designed by Virgil Abloh and high-end jeweller Jacob & Co and festooned in diamonds? The design motif from Abloh’s “Office Supplies” collection (yes featuring Abloh’s signature quotation marks) which dropped in May spans earrings and bracelets crafted in white, yellow or rose gold, with some designs studded with diamonds.
But the buzz about the launch is the fact that, just a few days ago, the Abloh camp had obtained intellectual property rights from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the “concept” behind a diamond-encrusted bracelet and earring in the collection.
Abloh’s critics might raise an eyebrow at him claiming ownership over a design most young children has strung together during their school years. After all, the paperclip – an office supply invented in 1899 – is not a foreign concept to the jewellery world. A look back through history will show that Victorian stopwatch chain links featured paperclip-inspired designs while Maison Margiela produced a paperclip necklace for its Fall/Winter 2007 collection.
In an Instagram post, Abloh shared that his motivations for the flossy bling was “cryptic & metaphoric”. He added: “But that’s as much of the concept as the adolescent idea of making a paperclip bracelet in grade school meets the blinding aspirational quality of a Rocafella chain. It’s my whole art practice in one object.”
As pointed out by The Fashion Law, a news site that reports on the legal and business aspects of the fashion industry, the patents do not grant him exclusive rights for any or all bracelets and earrings made of designs that look like paperclips – and certainly not jewellery made of actual paperclips, themselves.
Instead, the site quoted design patent expert and University of Oklahoma College of Law professor Sarah Burstein that Abloh can claim the rights for jewellery designs in the style of paperclips that are “studded with small jewels or rhinestones”.
Where To Shop For Paperclip Jewellery That Aren’t By Virgil Abloh
Nonetheless, not everyone is pleased.
British fashion designer Katie Hillier who has been creating paperclip jewellery under her label Hillier Bartley – as far back as five years – ago took to social media to express her dissatisfaction. In a post dated July 26, she said: “Will we get sued for continuing to make an item that we have been making since AW15 not to mention several years before at HIllierlondon.. ?? We just spent the last year rebuilding our website focusing on items, in particular the ones that are very signature to us.. A little respect from designer to designer is all we ask..”