The fashion industry is monumental in the UK, with well over half a million employed across its various arms – and an annual worth of £26 billion to boot. Fashion businesses are lucrative enterprises, but not immune to less-creative concerns. Indeed, legal concerns are rife within fashion, as many brands have been unlucky enough to discover in recent months and years. What are the major challenges facing fashion brands at present?
The headline-grabbing stories within fashion at present relate to sustainability. The climate crisis is a major topic of conversation and one which the vast majority of people are actively concerned about. Where businesses are not pulling their weight concerning reducing carbon emissions, consumers are noticing – and voting with their wallets accordingly.
But there is also a legal element to this issue. The UK government has introduced green laws relating to pollution and carbon footprints, which businesses will need to monitor as they tighten up in preparation for a net-zero-by-2050 commitment.
Another legal consideration is presented in the marketing arm of the industry. Fashion businesses rely on different channels to market their products effectively, from conventional advertising to influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a relatively unregulated market in and of itself, where newer platforms have seen influencers advertising products without declaring a vested interest in them. As laws relating to such practices continue to tighten, fashion businesses need to consider the legal impacts.
An undeniable thorn in the side of the global fashion industry at present is the size of its bootleg underbelly. Fraudulent enterprises are bolder and bolder in their efforts to steal proprietary designs and intellectual copyrights, creating markets flooded with counterfeit goods that both starve fashion businesses of profits and besmirch their reputation. Of course, copyright disputes are not limited to spats between brands and no-name distributors; there are also many notable legal battles between fashion heavyweights.
These legal battles illustrate well the sheer importance of legal coverage and representation concerning intellectual copyrights and trademarked design. Expert counsel enables businesses to remain agile in the face of stolen work and limit their exposure to risk as a result.
It is impossible to talk about the fashion industry without acknowledging the elephant in the room: many larger-scale fashion businesses, and indeed a large number of smaller enterprises, rely on sweatshop labour for the creation of their products. The working conditions of workers in developing countries are poor, and their pay poorer – but the practices involved are often just on the right side of legal (though still ethically indefensible). Still, legal issues can present, and not just with relation to factory law-breaking.
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