Upcoming fashion studies conference at LIM College (NYC): “Fashion, Now & Then: From Antiquity to Visionary”"


Check out the diverse and interesting line-up of speakers at LIM College’s upcoming fashion-studies conference, Fashion, Now & Then: From Antiquity to Visionary which includes a presentation by CSFLS founder Charles E. Colman on his latest piece, “Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies.”

Summer hiatus

This is likely apparent from the date of the last post, but CSFLS will be on a summer hiatus until early September 2014.  In the meantime, check out this essay on fashion, society, and trademark law, by CSFLS founder Charles Colman.  You can (and should!) download the working draft of the piece, tentatively titled Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodiesat SSRN.

Enjoy your summer!

FLS Digest for Monday, May 5, 2014

Adidas Claims Under Armour Infringed Fitness Patents” (California Patent Lawyer)

Adidas AG has sued Under Armour Inc. in Delaware federal court, claiming that Under Armour infringed 10 Adidas patents for a “location aware” fitness training system.

The patents at issue were issued between 2007 and 2013 and include one for a “method of monitoring an individual’s performance during a physical activity with a portable performance monitoring device,” using GPS and “systems and methods for a portable electronic journal.”

Adidas products using the patented technology let users monitor their heart rates, calculate the number of calories they have burned, and collect other data via their smartphones.

The Adidas suit targets the Armour39 exercise monitoring system, which uses sensors, a chest strap, and mobile apps to track athletic performance metrics.

Swatch may attempt to block Apple from trademarking iWatch name” (Digital Spy)

Swatch is reportedly planning to block any attempts by Apple to trademark the ‘iWatch’ name.

According to Businessweek, the Swiss watch maker is concerned that the label is too similar to its own product, iSwatch.

The 31-year-old company said it wants to protect its brand names, despite the fact Apple has still not officially announced a wearable watch, or revealed its name.Swatch CEO Nick Hayek told the publication that it does not intend to take Apple to court over the matter, but revealed it has made contact with authorities in countries where the iWatch is registered as a trademark.

Luxury Institute Examines Luxe Rebound” (WWD)

There are few generational divides when it concerns spending decisions and luxury goods, a report released Wednesday by The Luxury Institute revealed.

Although volatility has returned to the stock market, the luxury sector of fashion apparel and accessories is being driven by a nascent rebound in the global economy and a growing appetite for top-quality products by Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials.

The overall trend remains higher, producing a significant wealth effect, and retailers in the luxury space are benefiting from the improving economic outlook in the global market as well as from climbing equity rates and real estate prices in China, the U.S. and Europe, which show double-digit percentage gains in year-over-year median sales prices. Confidence is on the rise across Europe and in China, where fears of inflation and currency issues are subsiding as GDP growth continues to move north of 7 percent.

Older models on the runway – are we in the midst of a fashion revolution or a flash in the pan?” (The Independent)

The most memorable show of the spring 2014 season? The American designer Rick Owens recruited a trio of steppers – for a dance form that combines cheerleading, step-dancing and military drill – to model his sports-inspired spring wares.

Clad in hefty trainers and stretch jersey, not a standard model size among them, the dancers were dynamic, energetic and emphatically real. It was the latest – and greatest – manifestation of the rise of the real in fashion.

Pro-reality, anti-fantasy, even anti-fashion to a degree, this new feeling is manifested in images forcibly rinsed of retouching or digital manipulation, in advertising campaigns and editorials featuring “models” cast from the street, in a new breadth of aesthetic on the catwalks. There’s even a reflection in an emergent trend that has fast been given the irritating moniker “Normcore”. Fashion is eschewing elitism, and embracing the everyday, and the everyman and woman. Fashion is out of fashion.

Building Vogue China” (Business of Fashion)

When Angelica Cheung first became editor-in-chief of Vogue China in 2005, more than 100 issues ago, the Chinese luxury market was just beginning to flex its muscle. A taste for luxury and fashion was starting to gather steam and real awareness of major international luxury brands was still largely limited to those Chinese who had studied or worked abroad.

But soon, the market caught fire, growing at astonishing double-digit percentage rates for several years. At launch, Vogue China stepped into a media landscape already crowded with fashion magazines. But since then, it has taken a leadership role in educating and informing consumers and expanding demand for luxury goods through close collaborations with international brands clamouring for the attention of an ascendant Chinese luxury consumer.

Today, growth in the Chinese luxury market has slowed significantly, impacted by decelerating economic growth, a government anti-corruption drive and shoppers choosing to buy their luxury goods abroad…

FLS Digest for Friday, May 2, 2014

Legal Strategies to Avoid a Real Estate Nightmare for Retailers” (Fashion Law and Business)

A fewrecentarticles in the New York-area media highlight the importance of brick-and-mortar retail locations that allow consumers to physically engage with fashion products – to feel the fabrics, to view the construction, to test the drape and fit.  Because it is often difficult to predict what retail developments and locations will be a hit with consumers and which ones will not, it is equally important for fashion companies to seek to negotiate lease provisions that give appropriate protections to mitigate their risks if a particular retail location does not work out.

For example, many fashion companies negotiate for the option to surrender space in certain circumstances.  If surrender options are available, then they are usually limited to specified space and exercisable at a specified time, and they are often conditioned upon the company’s failure to meet certain sales targets by such time and/or the payment of a fee to the landlord, which may be specified in the lease or based on a calculation set forth in the lease…

Men’s Socks Are Having a $2.8 Billion Moment” (Business Week)

The sock surge, however, is particularly interesting. Socks, like toothpaste or tonic water, have always been basically a commodity. Demand shouldn’t change that much from one year to the next.

So the only way to generate more sales dollars—as consumer goods execs know well—is to come out with some new style to justify higher prices or get people to buy more. Or, preferably, both. That strategy is why toothpaste aisles are now stocked with a seemingly endless array of whitening scrubs and why cocktail aficionados now forgo the Schweppes for $16 “small batch” tonic.

Treat your product like a commodity, and people will buy it like a commodity. Treat it as something special, and you may be able to raise prices by multiples. The sock bosses, it seems, are finally taking a cue from Starbucks (SBUX).

Adventures in the skin trade” (The Economist)

Denmark is home to 1,500 mink farmers who together rear about 17.2m of the mammals a year—about one-fifth of the world’s supply. It also produces much smaller quantities of other furs such as white fox and chinchilla. Danish food companies produce the world’s most nutritious mink food, a mephitic, fishy concoction. Danish design firms drive fur fashions. And the auction house sells fur from all over the world: last year it auctioned 21m pelts and had a turnover of €2.1 billion ($2.8 billion).

Kopenhagen Fur has so many Chinese buyers at its auctions—about half of the 600 who typically attend—that it has a Chinese restaurant on the premises, produces a special Chinese edition of Fur Times, and even puts up discreet notices on how to use Western lavatories. Inside the building pop-up shops do a roaring trade in expensive watches and jewellery. Outside, Chinese fur traders in brightly coloured tracksuits wreathe the place in tobacco smoke. In all, Kopenhagen Fur accounts for about a third of Denmark’s exports to China.

Michael Kors Wins Over Europe’s Fashionistas” (Business Week)

Sophie Fiszman, a finance executive in Paris, used to buy only European fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Now she shops at the Michael Kors (KORS) store on Paris’s posh Rue Saint-Honoré. She recently bought a blue python-print bag at the store and was pleased that she’d found a purse she liked for less than €300 ($412). “The price is very good for what you get,” says Fiszman, deputy chief executive officer of OFI Asset Management. “I like the new style they have.”

New York-based Michael Kors has found a niche as an accessible—in other words, less expensive—luxury brand with the look and feel of a higher-end label. By producing goods at lower prices and adding a dash of American novelty, the label appeals to cost-conscious European consumers who still want high style, says Allegra Perry, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald in London.

Bailey takes the helm at Burberry” (Reuters)

Christopher Bailey started his job as chief executive of Burberry on Thursday, six months after the British luxury goods group said he would take over the top role from Angela Ahrendts who leaves for Apple. Burberry, the 157-year-old-group known for its camel, red and black check pattern, named its creative director Bailey as Ahrendts’s successor in October and said the change would take place by mid-2014.

The pair had been credited with helping restore Burberry’s cachet after it became a victim of its own success in the 1990s when its trademark pattern was embraced by the mass market, losing its appeal to its core wealthy clientele.

Bailey, who will hold a dual role of chief creative and chief executive officer, faces significant challenges, including the planned integration of Japan into the group on expiry of an apparel licence in 2015, as well as growing revenue in fragrance and beauty after the firm began directly operating that business last year.

FLS Digest for Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fashion’s Missed Muslim Market Opportunity” (Business of Fashion)

Muslim fashion. Simply juxtaposing these two words can cause consternation in some circles. Interpretations of a Koranic verse (an-Nur chapter 24, verse 30) advocating modesty and espousing appropriate female attire (enforced by law in some countries) have long restricted what many Muslim women can wear, distancing them from Western fashion culture. But, today, experts say, things are changing and increasing numbers of Muslim women want to dress fashionably and express their individuality through clothing.

The shift is being driven, in part, by significant demographic trends in the Muslim world. “There are varying estimates of the Muslim population, but what we use is 1.8 billion, of which about 43 percent, so just shy of 800 million, are under 25,” said Shelina Janmohamed, vice president of Ogilvy Noor, an Islamic branding practice that’s part of global marketing and public relations giant Ogilvy & Mather. “Muslims under 25 make up approximately 11 percent of the global population. Thus, not only do you have more Muslims to target, but they are increasing in numbers faster and they are young. And, contrary to a lot of expectations, they are interested in brands and they are interested in asserting some kind of individuality through what they purchase.”

Rachel Roy Files Lawsuit Against Jones” (WWD)

Rachel Roy is trying to stop Jones Apparel Group from selling her business to Bluestar Alliance for $14.6 million, a move that allegedly was done without her consent.

Roy has filed a lawsuit against Jones claiming breach of a contractual agreement in connection with the sale of her business, which allegedly was done “free and clear” of the designer’s approval rights. The lawsuit was filed April 11 in a New York state court in Manhattan. Named as defendants were Jones Investment Co. Inc., Jones Apparel Group USA Inc. and The Jones Group Inc. Jones has since been acquired by Sycamore Partners in a transaction valued at $2.2 billion.

Dressing the Man of Means” (NY Times)

The lexicon describing male shopping has been lately enriched with newly minted acronyms and portmanteaux, following in the vaunted (and derided) footsteps of “metrosexual.” Bain & Company calls this spender-to-be Henry (High Earner, Not Rich Yet); the bank HSBC, more cringe-worthily, calls him a Yummy (Young Urban Male). But if you christen him, will he come?

The largest players in the industry are hoping yes.

“Finally the men’s business is waking up,” said Gildo Zegna, the chief executive of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, one Saturday afternoon in his sunny office in Milan. “We’re taking it more seriously. We’re trying to make it more fun.”

Whitepaper: The future of retail.” (Medium)

Whether shopping with desktop, mobile, social or in-store, the retail experience should be one that feels less like a path to purchase and more like a first date that went really, really well. So well that the customer is already thinking of the 10th date—so well, that neither brand, nor customer, can think of being with anyone else.

It means every digital tactic must be executed in the pursuit of getting to know the consumer, so that every message intrigues her, appreciates her, and continues to draw her into a personalized brand experience—because in the “future of retail,” it is all about the consumer. Consumers make the rules and now have total access to whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it. The power has shifted away from retailers who long held it—and now the ball is in the consumer’s court. Brands and retailers are forced to play on the consumer’s terms to be successful. And the more brands can understand, connect and delight consumers instead of sell to them, the more long-term success and sustainability they will enjoy.

10 of the Worst Fast-Fashion Knockoffs From the Spring Runways” (Fashionista)

There’s a fun game that people who pay attention to runway fashion like to play — or, really, can’t help playing — every time they walk into a fast-fashion store, and that’s the game of looking at a garment and figuring out what runway collection it was “inspired” by…

FLS Digest for Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dolce, Gabbana Found Guilty of Tax Evasion” (Business of Fashion)

An Italian appeals court has upheld the decision of a lower court, ruling Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of fashion label Dolce & Gabbana guilty of tax evasion. Dolce, Gabbana and accountant Luciano Patellito were sentenced to one year and six months of jail time. They will not have to serve time in custody, however, as the sentences handed down are below the two-year minimum sentence requiring actual jail time.

In 2008, the two designers were charged with tax evasion relating to the 2004 sale of their brands Dolce & Gabbana and diffusion label D&G to the designers’ Luxembourg-based holding company Gado Srl. The Italian authorities called the sale a move to avoid paying higher corporate taxes in Italy. Dolce and Gabbana have consistently denied the charges.

Court rules on (fashion) design law” (Lexology)

The District Court of The Hague recently issued a judgment in a case involving well-known clothing brand O’Neill and Scandinavian clothing manufacturer L-Fashion. The subject: the design of a ski jacket.

O’Neill has been selling a ladies’ jacket since 2011. In 2013 O’Neill discovered that L-Fashion was selling a similar jacket (below).

O’Neill claimed that it held design rights and copyright in the design of the jacket. According to L-Fashion, in 2005 it had already introduced a similar jacket to the market, meaning that the O’Neill jacket was no longer new and original. For that reason, L-Fashion argued, O’Neill did not have design rights or copyright…

Aéropostale Sues Hennes & Mauritz” (WWD)

The New York-based specialty chain sued Swedish fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz in Manhattan federal court Thursday over use of the Live Love Dream, Aero and 87 trademarks.

“H&M engaged in a pattern of conduct involving the use of identical, or nearly identical marks on some of the same goods for which Aéropostale uses its marks, namely, clothing and tote bags,” Aéropostale said in the suit.

Aéropostale said it discovered in March that H&M was selling a graphic T-shirt and a cloth bag with the words Live Love Dream and upon further investigation discovered other looks that it claims infringe on other trademarks…

China’s addiction to luxury goods” (The Economist)

The Chinese only recently started making enough money to splurge. Now, with the middle classes expanding fast and the number of millionaires soaring (2.8m at the latest count), they have been catching up rapidly. In a country that is finely attuned to social-status signals, branded goods and sophisticated travel are high on many people’s wishlists. Global Blue, a retail-tourism company, found that for 82% of Chinese travellers shopping was a crucial part of their travel plans. In Britain they spend nearly £1,700 ($2,800) per person per trip, three times the market average. Much of it is spent on shopping; Chinese tourists have no problem buying Prada by day but sleeping in two-star hotels by night.

The main reason why they buy abroad is price. Hefty import tariffs and consumption taxes, as well as higher pricing strategies, can increase prices in China to 50% more than a shopper would pay elsewhere…

FLS Digest for Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Preparation for International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation; Public Meeting” (Federal Register)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing a public meeting entitled, “International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR)—Preparation for ICCR-8 Meeting.” The purpose of the meeting is to invite public input on various topics pertaining to the regulation of cosmetics. We may use this input to help us prepare for the ICCR-8 meeting that will be held in Canada from July 8 to 10, 2014.

Date and Time: The meeting will be held on June 4, 2014, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: The meeting will be held at the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., Wiley Auditorium (first floor), College Park, MD 20740.

Swatch Suffers Swiss Court Setback” (WWD)

Swatch Group has suffered a legal setback after the commercial court here rejected its claim for damages of 24.8 million Swiss francs, or $28 million at current exchange, against Swiss bank UBS over an unsuccessful investment.

The world’s biggest watch group said it would appeal against the ruling and turn to Switzerland’s highest court instead.

The case dates back to a big Swatch Group investment in a UBS product on the eve of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. After the value of the investment plunged, Swatch Group claimed it had been ill advised. Attempts to secure an out-of-court settlement failed, prompting the company to file suit. UBS argued the investment had been made in good faith, attention had been drawn to the risks and Swatch Group was a professional investor.

BCG-BoF Report | The Race For Talent in Fashion and Luxury” (Business of Fashion)

The race for top talent will define the next decade for the luxury and fashion industries.

A new research study finds that many executives in fashion and luxury, like their peers in other industries, are very concerned about securing talented professionals (1). One specific tell-tale: the new study — a collaboration between The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Business of Fashion (BoF) — finds that 50 percent of respondents believe they lack access to the best creative talent; this appears to be especially pressing for smaller independent firms. Their concern is not only about creative roles; they are also anxious to acquire the skills needed to support a wide range of functions.

Earlier research by BCG confirms that companies that excel in a range of key talent development practices see clear economic benefits. The best practitioners see revenue growth that is fully 3.5 times faster than those of companies that have not mastered those HR areas (2). They also demonstrate profit margins that are twice as robust as those of the laggards.

Modern workout clothes fuse function, fashion and self-expression” (Reuters)

Function and fashion must blend seamlessly in modern workout clothes, which have come a long way from the bulky gray cotton sweatshirts and canvas sneakers of years past, fitness experts say.

From sophisticated sweat-absorbing synthetics to cycling pants with strategically placed padding, today’s exercise apparel must be durable enough to withstand a hardcore workout, stylish enough to meet friends or run errands, and distinct enough to let the world know who you are.

Chris Froio, head of training for Reebok International Ltd, the running shoe and apparel company, said consumers of both sexes are expecting their clothes not only perform but express the fitness lifestyle of the wearer.