Is the fashion industry set to lead the economic recovery?
Although labelled a frivolous sideline by many, the fact remains that the fashion industry is one of the few in Spain that can still hold its head up high. The fine work of companies like Inditex, Mango, Cortefiel, Desigual, Tous and Pepe Jeans has given rise to Spain’s very own “Silicon Valley” in the textile industry. Thus, according to the research on “The Economic Value of Design”, unveiled by the Spanish Design Observatory, fashion represents no less than 7% of the country’s GDP, not to be sniffed at for an industry that has traditionally done without much central government largesse. Nonetheless, there is no denying that the Spanish fashion powerhouses have shown themselves able to create and export new business models, revolutionizing the industry in the process. Many are looking to the fashion world to play a key role in the Spanish economic recovery.
On the legal front, the impact of the Spanish and EU legislative framework on the country’s top textile firms remains somewhat unclear. On the one hand, designers have campaigned for greater protection in the form of concepts such as industrial design, copyright and unfair competition, as a bulwark against the rising tide of product knock-offs. On the other hand, increasingly loud voices argue that copying acts as a spur to innovation, as claimed in the well-known paper published by the UCLA Professor Kal Raustiala “The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design”. Using this research as his starting point, Professor Raustiala has come up with an original take on what he has dubbed “The knockoff economy”, in which innovation seems to encourage innovation. Either way, the fact remains that the latest legislative and case law developments in Europe and the US err on the side of increased protection. The doubts as to the ideal degree of protection have not been dispelled and, as things stand, fashion businesses continue devoting much of their efforts to protecting their brand, rather than on design.
To discuss these and other issues, on January 29, the second annual Barcelona Fashion Summit will bring together key industry figures under the heading “Leadership in Fashion: Keys to growth in a global setting”. The program of the 2014 Barcelona Fashion Summit represents a fascinating opportunity for in-depth debate on the current standing of the fashion business on the international scene. The leading players will offer a first-hand account of aspects such as the strengths and weaknesses of Spain’s top brands in terms of financing, the various business models in the premium segment, the most attractive markets for the fashion industry (BRICS, CIVETS, MAVINS, etc.) or the brand-building expertise of the Inditex empire. The participation of Garrigues –sharing the stage with Mango, Desigual, Interbrand and Forecast- will focus on “the strength of the brand: positioning in a global market”. This round table will take a look at how to build and manage a global brand, with a particular emphasis on the risks facing fashion businesses as they embark on internationalization processes.
Garrigues Intellectual Property Department