NIKITA BYRNES | NEWS
The nationally-renowned business and brand, Clothing the Gap, has been forced to add an “s” onto the end of their name after a two-year legal battle with American corporate giant and clothing brand, GAP. The business has officially re-branded as “Clothing the Gaps.”
Clothing the Gaps started out as word play on the Australian Federal Government initiative, Closing the Gap, which began in 2008. The objective and outcomes as of 2020 in the National Closing the Gap Agreement state: “The objective of this Agreement is to overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians.”
Clothing the Gap began as a merchandise line after co-founders of the brand, Laura Thompson (Gunditjmara) and Sarah Sheridan (non-Indigenous) started a socially-led health enterprise and business called Spark Health in October 2017. Just over a year later in December 2018, Clothing the Gap’s “OG” Collection was launched. The collection featured white t-shirts, as well as t-shirts in the colours of the Aboriginal Flag – black, red, yellow – featuring the brand name embroidered on the front.
After filing trademark applications in April 2019, the brand received opposition to the applications from GAP (ITM) Inc, an American corporate giant and clothing brand, who gave the small Australian brand six months to transition to new branding. In July of that year, Clothing the Gap filed a Notice of Intention to Defend the Oppositions against GAP. However, in November 2020, the Trade Mark Tribunal’s Hearing Officer decided in favour of GAP.
In April 2021, the Australian business reached an agreement with GAP, who allowed the transition of “Clothing the Gap” to “Clothing the Gaps,” with restrictions on trade areas and stylisation. The Tribunal awarded legal costs to GAP but the American brand has not claimed those expenses.
Clothing the Gaps was given until 31 July, 2021, to completely re-brand and sell all original merchandise that carries the old name. The brand continues to fight for equality and justice for First Nations peoples through the awareness brought by their clothing collections and to promote their “Free the Flag” campaign.