What a difference a year makes. In 2010, Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) sold T-shirts inspired by Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, now the pair want nothing to do with one another. In August, A&F execs publicly shamed the Jersey Shore star by offering him “substantial payment” to get him to stop wearing their clothes. Now, in the latest legal tango between the two, The Sitch has slapped the retailer with a seven-figure lawsuit, arguing that the company profited from a false affiliation with him.
Sorrentino routinely lifts up his shirt to reveal his abs — and often flashes the A&F logo on the waistband of his underwear. The Jersey Shore cast is known for partying and other qualities with which the company said it did not want to associate. That’s why The Sitch’s little ab-baring habit led A&F to present him with this open letter:
“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”
In the lawsuit, filed in a Florida court on Tuesday, Sorrentino fires back. He claims that the New Albany, Ohio-based firm “significantly profited” from that open letter, which he claims was a publicity stunt to sell clothes. Sorrentino was also unimpressed with two T-shirts designed by A&F, emblazoned with the phrases: “The Fitchuation” and “GTL … You Know The Deal.” The reality star argues that the merchandise could hurt the sale of apparel that he already markets on his official website. Sorrentino and MPS Entertainment trademarked his Shore nickname and catchphrase “GTL” — an acronym for gym, tan, laundry — in 2009, shortly after the first season of the MTV docu-soap began attracting record-setting audiences.
The lawsuit states:
“Starting in August 2011, Defendant (the company) embarked on a grand, worldwide advertising campaign using Sorrentino’s name, image and likeness to create brand awareness for its products by falsely claiming that Defendant had offered money to Sorrentino if he would stop wearing Defendant’s goods. That offer was never made to Sorrentino, nor was it ever conveyed to Sorrentino by a representative.”
Sorrentino is reportedly seeking $4 million in damages.