Written by | January 27, 2021

Intellectual Property

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is particularly hard being a rising fashion designer in the Instagram era.

Now more than ever, emerging designers are victims of fast-fashion companies, which scout talents via social media and reproduce their designs for a quarter of their original price.

Because fashion trends move so fast and, for some people, only last one season, it is very likely that consumers will opt for cheaper versions of a particular design especially if that piece will only be in vogue for a few months. In so doing, the fast-fashion industry makes ideas less special, hindering some of the fundamental principles of fashion such as creativity, uniqueness, and authenticity.

This multi-billion-pound copycat economy has damaging consequences especially for new designers as they lack a strong brand identity and a loyal customer base. Therefore, it often happens that shoppers do not realize they are purchasing a knockoff because they have never seen the original designs.

In addition, young designers have limited resources to defend their rights. Even when they have a legitimate claim, more often than not, they do not have the economic means to fight back and spend money on legal fees. Emerging designers should focus on growing their brand and not spending a big proportion of their annual budget in fighting legal battles against these billionaire companies.

So, are young designers Don Quixote fighting against windmills?

Luckily, NO. Social media can be used as a double-edged sword and this time it is to their advantage. It is true that fast-fashion companies scout IG accounts to check out new designers’ latest work, but it also true that their “image” and “reputation” is what keep their copycat business going and designers can use this to their favour.

  1. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. As young and up-and-coming fashion designer, you should make the most of your social media platforms, communicating to your customer base that you are the original designer, defending your creative rights. Call out your copycats and make sure your voice is heard. Designers are using accounts like @dietprada to expose fast-fashion companies and their illicit knockoffs.
  2. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Make sure you understand your legal rights. As a rising and talented designer, you can monetize your creations and protect your work by filing for a registered design in the UK or anywhere in the world. In addition, you designs may be subject to copyright protection.
  3. DEVELOP YOUR BRAND IDENTITY. It is fundamental that you spend time creating and protecting your brand identity. Fashion trends pass but who you are as a designer and what your brand represents will remain forever with you. Your brand image will help you develop a loyal customer base, setting the foundation for you to become a strong player in such a competitive industry. Registering a trade mark for your logo and your name will give the exclusive right to use your brand and grown your business.

Briffa are experts in all aspects of intellectual property law and practice and advise clients operating in a broad range of sectors, including the fashion industry. If you would like to arrange a free consultation with one of our specialist intellectual property lawyers, please contact us on 020 7096 2779 or

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