The fashion & luxury brands industry...

The fashion and luxury brands sector falls comfortably within the 'retail sector' but we've given it a special page of its own as a lot of law firms tend to separate their 'fashion and luxury brands' offering (sometimes referred to as 'brands' or 'luxury brands' etc).  

"Why?" you may ask.. Good question! The fashion and luxury brands industry tends to be at the forefront of the retail sector. Penningtons Manches describes the sector as evolving at a "rapid pace" and at the "forefront of cutting edge technology, leading the rest of the retail world in new and innovative ways to interact with and relate to customers". Taylor Wessing describes the sector as one which faces problems such as "counterfeit goods and copycat products" (think fast fashion vs high profile and up market fashion) and one which should embrace the internet and social media to "interact with consumers" (let's be honest, many of us now get our fashion inspo from instagram!). 

What do the lawyers do?!

One of the most important assets of a fashion brand or other form of luxury brand is.... their brand! Owners and stakeholders of these brands want to ensure the brand's name and reputation remains intact and it's considered a brand ahead of the game. So, taking that into consideration, it's clear what common legal issues businesses within this sector will face: defamation (reputation protection)intellectual property rights (protection against people copying designs or using the brand's name to sell cheaper products / ripping off the brand) and AI/technology (how best to use the latest advancements in technology to enhance the brand's audience and reputation). 

However, that's not all. Remember, a fashion/luxury brand is like any other business. It has employees, it's owned by people, it has directors and a management board, it has competition and needs to grow and make profit. As such, the usual legal services required by pretty much most other businesses also are needed by fashion brands. These include:

  • employment - to deal with issues to do with the employee/employer relationship

  • corporate - if a business wants to grow or restructure itself it'll need corporate lawyers to help that happen

  • commercial - almost every other day a fashion/luxury brand business will be entering into contracts with advertisers, sponsors, franchises or models/agencies the list goes on - commercial lawyers need to draft those documents and advise on risk 

  • real estate - believe it or not fashion/luxury brand businesses may own (or at least lease) real estate so they'll need real estate lawyers to help them negotiate those property transfers/acquisitions or lease agreements 

  • banking and finance - most businesses need injections of cash at various points through their lifecycle so businesses will loan funds from banks or other lenders or they may receive cash from investors so finance lawyers will deal with the legalities in respect of this 

  • intellectual property - as mentioned above, the biggest asset a fashion/luxury brand owns is their brand so they'll need to put protective measures in place to protect their IP

  • defamation - it's not unusual for consumers or other organisations to make statements about a fashion or luxury brand that can be negative and untrue. Such statements can have a severe impact on a fashion/luxury brand's reputation and image so that's when defamation lawyers are called in 

  • data protection - data protection lawyers will ned to advise businesses on how to handle customer data in a lawful way (particular given the ever changing nature of this area of law) 

  • litigation - unsurprisingly the fashion/luxury brands industry is not immune from disputes and challenges!

It's also possible that smaller businesses (or even larger ones) within this sector are owned by families or high net worth individuals. As such, lawyers that specialise in private wealth and estate planning will be required by those owners to put in place structures that will deal with how the assets are split following their death or at some point during their life. Tax lawyers may also be required to advise on how to structure their assets so that it is held in a tax efficient way. 

Clients in this sector...

Clients will include:

  • marketing teams in a company, 

  • social media influencers, 

  • brand ambassadors, 

  • PR agencies, 

  • media buying and branding agencies, 

  • global brands, 

  • start-ups, and

  • any nature of businesses such as clothing, manufacture and retail, food and drink, sports etc. 

Example legal cases

Penningtons Manches Cooper advised an international luxury footwear business after copycat designs were sold in multiple jurisdictions - there was a negotiation of a large settlement which included significant damages being paid without having to go to court. 

Hogan Lovells advised Gucci on its joint venture with Al Tayer Group in the UAE. 

Taylor Wessing acted on the restructuring and CVA of the Arcadia group (including Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge).

Legal specialisms to consider...