Students and supporters of MTO (Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi) Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism are calling on fashion designer Roberto Cavalli to cease using a logo that they say infringes on the school’s sacred emblem.
Protestors demonstrate outside the Roberto Cavalli location on Rodeo Drive last weekend. (photo courtesy of #TakeOffJustLogo)
Last Saturday, more than 350 supporters of the #TakeOffJustLogo campaign protested outside of Cavalli’s store on Rodeo Drive to raise awareness about the issue, said Nasim Bahadorani, who attends a MTO Shahmaghsoudi school location in the San Fernando Valley.
She said the movement started after some students at a MTO school in the United Kingdom saw the design on items in the Just Cavalli clothing line. After being repeatedly ignored, they took the campaign online, Bahadorani said. It has since gone international.
“Now, it’s become about standing up to corporations that are misusing and misrepresenting what is sacred to our hearts just for the sake of their own financial gain,” Bahadorani added. She stressed that the school was not behind the campaign; rather, students and supporters have taken up the effort.
Bahadorani said the Sufi emblem has been trademarked for 27 years, documented for 150 years and associated with 1,400 years of heritage. She said it represents the heart, purity and the name of God.
However, according to Bahadorani, Cavalli is misrepresenting the symbol to mean a snakebite or sin. Though Cavalli has rotated the emblem 90 degrees, the Sufi symbol has the same meaning regardless of how it is oriented, she said.
Bahadorani said Cavalli’s logo has “Just Cavalli” written over it, making it appear “almost identical” to the MTO emblem. Further, on some merchandise, such as perfume bottles, it looks even more similar, she said.
The MTO student said the fashion designer has not been responsive to the campaign, which is “frustrating.” She said she has no knowledge of any plans to file a lawsuit against Cavalli.
“We’re just trying to raise enough awareness to put pressure on him,” Bahadorani added.
She said the re-branding of the emblem is “heart-wrenching,” a feeling that is exacerbated by the fact that Cavalli has been accused of misrepresenting religious depictions on his clothing in the past.
In 2004, he upset the Hindu community by placing images of their goddesses on lingerie and bikinis, Bahadorani said. The designer reportedly apologized for the incident.
“You can’t do this. You can’t trample over … what’s sacred to us just for the sake of profit,” Bahadorani said. “The whole purpose of our campaign now is, ‘who’s next?’ Who’s he going to do this to next?”
The campaign has posted a petition on change.org, and as of Tuesday, it had 2,506 supporters.
Bahadorani said MTO Shahmaghsoudi school has existed, in some form, for 1,400 years. She said the school teaches Islamic Sufism, which refers to the reality of religion, a journey to self-knowledge.
Representatives of Roberto Cavalli did not return requests for comment by deadline.