Trade shows and fashion weeks are the life blood of many brands – yes you produce lookbooks but it’s at these events that you really get to show the industry where you are at for the new season. However, the conundrum is that once you show your new collection to the world at large it can be up for grabs.
Trends in retail are born on the catwalk and at trade shows but while the transition of an overall concept – for example, Gothic – is expected and will not cause a great deal of concern to brands – the same cannot be said if a too close for comfort reproduction of a particular design suddenly begins to appear on the High Street. The turnaround for High Street has increased at pace over the past few years reducing the previous buffer between shows and items appearing on sale.
So what can you do?
Not showing while the obvious answer is not going to help – and will potentially cause more overall damage. Therefore, we recommend the following
1. Try to control who you let onto your stand and what they do
At the majority of trade shows and events individuals will wear badges. Check who people are and invest in people at the doors to question people and keep the wrong ones out. Simply seeing that it is going to be an effort to get onto a stand may dissuade the wrong people from even trying.
Also, try and control people taking photographs when they are on the stand or if you see someone doing it – make sure you know them and why they want a photograph.
2. Think about it when creating the layout of your stand
Depending on the layout – consider locating the key pieces closer to the centre of any stand
3. Keep a record of what you showed at a particular event.
If a copy does appear then it’s important to be able to prove that even though a design was not on general sale to the public it was possible for that design to have been seen by the alleged infringer.
4. If you think any particular design is important register it before the show.
If you are relying on unregistered rights then it is necessary to show copying, covering both a sufficiently detailed level of similarity and that the alleged copier would have had access to the design. However, this is not necessary for registered designs, where copying is irrelevant.
There is no failsafe answer – there will always be a level of risk but ultimately you can’t afford not to show the next season. It’s here where brands/distributors/agents start to obtain their orders and create interest about the particular season. Stands can be manic and it’s hard to keep a handle on comings and goings, however, a couple of the steps set out above may help to limit any exposure and increase your likely success for 2013 and beyond.