The business of Fashion: what are the current legal trends?

In this article, Simra (who you may know better as @theLondonLawStudent on Instagram) looks into the various trends and preoccupations of the fashion sector. 

  • Last updated Mar 12, 2020 12:51:32 PM
  • Simra Khadam | TheLondonLawStudent

Some of law firms’ biggest clients are fashion powerhouses—LVMH, Chanel, Arcadia Group and Primark to name just a few. The retail industry is the UK’s largest private sector and in 2019 it brought in £394 billion. The industry has shifted over the past few years, due to the rise of technology, influencer culture and the increased popularity of online shopping. The commercial relationship between fashion and law has never been so interesting to explore. 

High street retail: an online future? 

It seems that the high street and its future has been put under question. One of the challenges retail faces relates directly to the fact that many stores are now performing better online. Popular websites like ASOS, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing allow for quick and easy access when it comes to shopping—all from the comfort of your home. 

Due to the shift online, many retail giants with physical stores are struggling. In 2019 it was reported by Retail Research that 43 companies were failing and a further 2,051 were affected. At this point, many companies will turn to lawyers in order to receive financial advice from a legal perspective and begin a process which falls under corporate restructuring. When bakery chain Patisserie Valerie collapsed into administration last January, it stated that around 71 outlets would close as the chain did not have enough money to pay its debts. Initially, KPMG was advising the company, before the work was passed onto restructuring firm FRP Advisory in order to peruse legal claims against Grant Thornton which had audited Pat Val but had failed to identify any manipulation of accounts. CMS is currently advising Patisserie Valerie, with Osborne Clarke having provided legal advice in the past.

By and large, the high street is only doing well where business cannot be replicated online. For example, tattoo parlours, Nail and Hair Salons are thriving, but many physical stores are closing down. With consumers favouring online options such as Amazon and eBay, law firms play a role in providing advice to retailers on how to stay competitive. Selfridges is an example of a company that consistently delivers on surprising and amusing its customers. Although the luxury department store is at an advantage, being a major tourist destination popularised by hit television series Mr Selfridge, it constantly provides new campaigns and incentives to keep consumers interested. We have seen the chain capitalise on Christmas, ensuring they are staying current and interesting to both the younger and older generations. Where other department stores saw losses, Selfridges saw a full-year sales boost of 6% in 2019. Huge corporations such as Selfridges do have consistent in-house legal teams to help in providing any regulatory checks and ensuring any campaigns fully comply with UK regulations. 

On the tail end, smaller boutiques and companies typically turn to law firms for financial advice, particularly in light of rising rent costs. Law firms would help ensure the business structure is not only cost-effective but also allows the business to thrive in a competitive legal market. 

As the usage of online shopping evolves, many retail businesses will have to seek legal advice on how to manage their businesses online—especially in line with consumer and data protection laws. One example is Boohoo, which was bought by Karen Millen and Coast – but only their online platforms. Especially with fast fashion, online platforms are fast becoming the future. This also means that retail property will potentially see a fall and real estate lawyers will see shifts in the type of spaces retailers will need. With online platforms growing, this would mean that instead of purchasing property in the high street, spaces will most likely be warehouses. Ultimately, the high-street could potentially be rendered a thing of the past. 

Check out Simra on Instagram at @TheLondonLawStudent



More like this

  • Designer plagiarism: what does fast fashion have to answer for? Emma Finamore

    The fast fashion market value is higher than $35bn, but creating cheap garments on demand has given birth to a more sinister trend—ripping off other brands, from high end fashion houses to smaller designers. Where does artistic interpretation end, and plagiarism begin? 

  • Business law goes global: an introduction to the international legal services landscapeDavid Carnes

    Law, like business, has gone global. Although each jurisdiction enacts its own laws, in some cases the laws of various jurisdictions have been harmonised by treaty (intellectual property law is a prime example). In other cases, the laws of various jurisdictions must be taken into account before a transaction can take place. Conflicts among the laws of different jurisdictions are frequently in need of resolution.

  • Delays on government infrastructure projects: what’s the deal?David Carnes

    The UK has been grappling with a number of huge infrastructure projects across the country, including the HS2 railway and a number of hospital new builds. What are the implications when these projects get delayed?

  • Are law partnerships in decline? Jan Hill

    Although the partnership model remains dominant, change is in the air. We look at what this means for law firms in the UK and US

  • The Internet of Things: will it transform connectivity as we know it? Elizabeth Hurst

    If you’ve been keeping up to date with tech news and business press, you’ll perhaps have encountered something called the Internet of Things. You’re also more likely than not to have used a device that’s connected to it. So what is it? Why is it important? And what do you need to know? 

Recruiting? We can help