Last week, fashion’s biggest players gathered at the Savoy in London to discuss the important issues in Fashion Law right now, particularly the protection of a brand’s most important asset: its designs. The event is in its second year and is organized by The International New York Times and The Global Legal Post. Some of the topics covered at the summit included differentiating a brand from competing brands, how technology and social media affect fashion brands, and nurturing new fashion brands.
A common theme at the summit was the protection of a brand’s worth. Gian Giacomo Ferraris, Gianni Versace SpA’s CEO spoke at the summit, saying that the most important and effective way to protect a brand’s worth is to protect the brand’s identity. Ferraris stated that companies in the luxury goods space have to be fierce in protecting their brand’s identity. This is especially true for a brand like Versace which has a such a distinctive aesthetic that can be easily copied.
He explained how when Versace began to devote efforts to protecting the core identity of the brand through acts such as buying back its Versus license and streamlining the process of the company, the brand began to gain a higher awareness among consumers. It seems that by maintaining control of both the creative and business aspects of the brand, helped the brand to establish itself within the luxury goods market, as the company is heading to revenues of $683 million this year.
A major part of protection of a brand identity is through deterring counterfeit products within the marketplace, said Ferraris. The company is now including a code in each product which the consumer can use to check the authenticity of the product on the company’s website. This is similar to what Chanel does, where they place a code in their purses which then tells the consumer that the product is genuine.
The brand has been very vigilant in thwarting counterfeit operations. Most notably, recently the brand sued a Philippine/Australian-based eBay counterfeit operation and won after four years in court. Ferraris also stated that seizure of counterfeit Versace goods is down because of the active efforts of the company over the past couple years. Some of these efforts include working with local authorities around the world to combat the production and sale of counterfeit goods in their local regions. These measures as well as an increased engagement with consumers, such as with the code included in each product sold, has caused the number of counterfeit Versace goods seized to go from 300,000 items in 2012 to 132,0000 items in 2013.
Its so important that a brand takes active efforts to combat counterfeiting operations because while counterfeit products serve a different target market than the brand’s consumers, the ubiquity of counterfeit goods that copy the brand’s products that were cultivated with care and that identify the brand, can cause a degradation and cheapening of the brand. A company has to recognize the connection between protection of a design, protection of the brand identity and brand worth. It seems that Versace has recognized this connection and taken important and effective steps to prevent counterfeiting, which has thus protected the brand and the brand’s image.
- “Luxury Labels Talk Guarding Their Assets,” Women’s Wear Daily
- “Versace CEO Says Counterfeits Are Down,” thefashionlaw.com