The Fashion Industry’s Future: Unknown

Pretty soon, we may see some significant changes in the fashion show format. I previously covered that several designers announced their test runs of a see now, buy now format. And now the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has also decided to seriously consider a reformatting of the seasonal New York Fashion Weeks currently taking place in September and February.

CFDA
Courtesy of CFDA

After failed efforts to get Congress to pass the Design Piracy and Prohibition Act to protect the work of designers, the CFDA has decided to take a different route to address not only the impacts of fast fashion, but also the growing gap between high fashion business tactics and consumer practices.

The organization has hired Boston Consulting Group to perform an in-depth analysis over the course of approximately six weeks. At the conclusion, they will provide CFDA with a recommendation for a long term way ahead for Fashion Week.

BCG Office
BCG Office – Courtesy of glassdoor.com

But here’s where the record screech comes in. They’re not starting the analysis until the beginning of next year. Uh…it’s March.

See, this is where the fashion industry is falling significantly behind the rest of the business world. In almost any other industry discovering that its practices are perhaps seriously outdated, a study would commence immediately. Or as soon as possible. We’re talking weeks, maybe a few months in extreme circumstances.

Still waiting.jpeg

But to wait almost a year to start an analysis on how the industry should catch up to a more modern business model? So bizarre. Who is dragging their feet and why?

This is when us spectators start to wonder how much personal interests (perhaps even egos) and power plays prevent capital business from growing and thriving in the direction it could.

KWest.jpeg
Egos can get in the way of profits. Kanye West’s collections have repeatedly flopped in reviews, and he is reportedly not returning to Paris Fashion Week.

And with the fast fashion companies literally stealing designs, patterns, and ideas from high fashion houses, why wait any longer than you have to for an external agency to conduct an analysis? What makes the fashion business so different from almost all other industries? Why can’t the design industry move faster than a glacial pace to adapt?

The music industry is a good source of relative comparison. Copyright law cases have more often swung in favor of the artists and “authors” of original music. Remember the Vanilla Ice copyright infringement on “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie? Yet for some reason, that same protection is not afforded to fashion designers in the same way.

Vanilla Ice

 

Lawsuits against fast fashion companies have often not protected the original creators in the same way that music sampling or sharing lawsuits have. In 2012 Christian Louboutin lost a lawsuit against Zara, which used Louboutin’s trademarked red sole. The court ruled that the trademark registration was too vague and suggested he should specify a Pantone number moving forward.

Really?! Louboutin’s trademarked red sole is actually only protected if he specifies fire engine red, rather than just red? You have to be kidding me. Because consumers are going to notice the difference? Really?! Will we really?! Ok, I’ll tone the incredulity down.

Louboutin.jpg

Now let’s move back a couple of decades to compare the Vanilla Ice infringement suit. Similar to Zara, he decided to sample the work of another artist without paying royalties or gaining legal license. Yet unlike Zara, Vanilla Ice ended up having to pay Bowie and Queen and give them co-composer credit.

So let me get this straight: A recent lawsuit in a case where the average public consumer will most often clearly identify a red sole as a Louboutin (whether it’s a $50 Zara pair, or $850 true Louboutin) sides with the company which capitalizes off of the other company’s trademarked concept. But TWENTY YEARS before this, courts clearly favored the original artist whose work experience similar “sampling” in the music industry.

And the irony of ironies here is that the fast fashion companies are now even turning on each other with copyright infringement lawsuits. Nothing screams hypocrisy like the lawsuit that H&M is bringing against Forever 21 for copying their Beach Please tote. Uh…pot, meet kettle.

Beach Please

Forever 21 has reportedly been sued over 50 times, and the majority of the time, they settle the case out of court. This has become such a common occurrence, that fast fashion businesses have the legal ducking and dodging down to an art form.

I made the case before about high fashion houses’ capital profits being at risk by the growing pace and quality of fast fashion (granted, only with a portion of their buyers). This in addition to the increasing desire of consumers to see it now and buy it now, and I’m just wondering why they want to stall the business analysis?

Why could the CFDA possibly believe that it would be a good thing to wait almost a full year to analyze current business practices? The world is only getting faster. If high fashion designers don’t pay attention to the clear signs that markets (and the courts) are sending them, then they may end up inadvertently branding themselves as outdated, out-designed, and perhaps even out of business.

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12 thoughts on “The Fashion Industry’s Future: Unknown

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I had to reblog this one, I found it very interesting.
    The designers are artists too, so that the laws are so different are mindboggling really.

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