HAUTE COUTURE- FASHION, LAW AND PANDEMIC

    Every major industry has had to deal with the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic, which spread across the globe with a reckless temerity and quickly grew into a worldwide crisis. The fashion industry has been disproportionately hit by the economic stress caused by Covid-19 and resulting from this, many legal issues have been arising ranging from bankruptcy to employment, and even Intellectual Property. With brands and houses of fashion closing down their shops and postponing runway fashion shows, the fashion industry has been adversely affected. The events such as Met Gala and the CFDA Awards, which are important events in the fashion industry, are being indefinitely postponed, and department and clothing stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Forever 21 and so on closing their stores, it is time to look deeper into the crisis and predict the future of Haute Couture accordingly looking at the present situation.

    RELEVANCE OF ‘COUTURE’ IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT

    To start, it is vital to understand why couture has relevance within the Indian context. ‘Couture’, like numerous fashion terms, may be a concept that appears to be used very loosely. The word, translated from its French roots, means ‘high sewing’.[1] In France, the practice is so respected that it has been protected by law. Charles Fredrick Worth, who founded his label in 1858, is generally understood to be Paris’ first couture house. Couture has stood the test of time while also, adapting with it. Earlier in July, the last edition of Paris’ high fashion Week was a digital experience for the prime time. In India, Indian Couture Week or the ICW is a 13 year old event which is hosted per annum. Indian Couture Week 2020 was held from September 18 to 23 and was the first ever virtual fashion week in India. If you think of high sewing, this country is that the global epicenter of couture during a plethora of aspects. The rich and sophisticated tradition of distinctive and authentic craftsmanship in India ensures that a lot of the best pieces of couture are made at local export ateliers. European luxury homes like Armani and Valentino only look to India for craftsmanship and cheap labour. Couture shows play a really special role during a luxury house’s reputation and perception, and are often less about the profits or other monetary benefits. The Design Council of India (FDCI) organises the Indian Couture Week, and its president Sunil Sethi, says, “India as a rustic is understood for its craftsmanship, everywhere the world. Couture may be a canvas where designers use their creative impetus, as a playground for fresh ideas whether it’s motifs, embroidery, or inspirations.”[2]

    THE FUTURE OF FASHION POST PANDEMIC OUTBREAK

    No one truly knows the long term impact of the pandemic on the fashion industry, with department stores closing shops, and many employees struggling to make ends meet. Experts believe sustainable fashion which is ‘in’ right now would dominate in the long run. Fashion historians have clearly acknowledged that folks changed their dressing style after the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the good Depression and the Second War [3]. We’ll just need to wait and watch what the pandemic will do to our dressing, but it’s certain that this pandemic has crumbled the social fabric of our lives in a method or another. This statement is often utilized in regard to our sense of dressing or our lives and goals. Ritu Kumar, the doyenne of Indian apparel industry and an inspiration to many, whose knowledge of ancient Indian fashion, heritage crafts and therefore the Indian apparel industry is unparalleled said that,“Business had bogged down after demonetization. Now, what’s gonna happen is that there’ll be a trend of need-based buying. I won’t be surprised if we are pushed back by another 20 years”.[4] She also adds that the Indian apparel industry has only been around for 30-40 years. Contrastingly, the International apparel industry has been around for over a 100 years which is certainly an upperhand.

    AFFECTED SALES AND UNEMPLOYMENT

    The Covid-19 flare-up has caused employment issues for individuals working in various areas of the Fashion Industry with deals dropping essentially in all cases, from quick style associations to extravagance brands. Behind these public-confronting components is an entire organization of providers, suppliers and laborers that are moreover feeling the impact of the overall pandemic, and the various constraints and aggravations that have happened as a prompt result. In various Western nations, retail and accommodation workers and delegates have been particularly hard hit. In various countries, those working inside the assembling area have been among the most overwhelmingly influenced in light of disrupting impacts to the worth and gracefully chains, as retailers and brands competition to drop organizes and alleviate harms and damages on their end.[5] An enormous bit of the style business gave work occasions to laborers in non-industrial nations who were engaged with sewing, cutting articles of clothing, weaving, and essential machine work and now they lost their positions too.[6] Specifically producing a gander at the results of the enduring overall wellbeing crisis (and coming about financial crisis) on the overall design fabricating area, teachers Sarah Kaine and Alice Payne, and Justine Coneybeer, a flexibly chain research aide, found that the movements brought by COVID-19 have fundamentally influenced those working in overall value chains and supply chains, the remainder of which implies the way to get the item to the customer. With the piece of clothing fabricating area being hit by falling interest, retailers drop arranges or request delays in installment just as provisions, for example, textures from China are being liable to disruption.[7] Striking effects are noticeable in the fluctuating costs of crude materials just as the plunging interest for completed items and articles of clothing. These pieces of clothing have been loading up in distribution centers and stores because of no interest and despite the fact that these are durable there are chances these might become unfashionable. Seasonal attire which is worn only occasionally is something which is of a genuine concern. Sales, offers and deals led by different brands and stores have neglected to accumulate a lot of deals. Plunging into the subject of advertisements numerous brands have quit doing them and now keep on advancing their image through Social Media during these difficult stretches.

    https://legalreadings.com/doctrine-of-res-judicata/

    FASHION, IPR AND PANDEMIC- WHY FASHION COMPANIES HAVE A DUTY TO COMPLY WITH THEIR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS

    Aside from legal employment and business issues and considerably more, style organizations have an obligation to follow their lawful commitments with respect to IPR Laws and Covid-19. For as long as not many months, Covid-19 has ruled the Intellectual Property debate and arguments. Covid-19 emergency is standing out as truly newsworthy identified with IPR as a huge number of workers in the article of clothing industry in non-industrial nations have been terminated or furloughed as attire organizations have dropped orders since the start of the pandemic due to plunging sales. The organizations engaged with this compassionate emergency incorporate unmistakable brands, for example, Forever 21, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Zara, C&A, Aim, and Marks and Spencer.

    These organizations depend on the licensing and authorizing of brand names to redistribute the creation of their garments to minimal effort developing nations. Simultaneously, they keep up responsibility for exchange marks, empowering them to introduce products to clients worldwide as originating from a solitary source and procuring the best portion of pay. Nonetheless, the authorisation of trademarks is a method whose lawful endorsement depends on the standard that the imprints must keep on being of reliable quality and can not be utilized to befuddle or deceive clients. Trade mark proprietors likewise need to practice power over the nature of the items created by licensees under the Common Law. In the previous century, much debate has encircled the acknowledgment of this practise.[8]

    This implies that they are liable for guaranteeing the nature of pieces of clothing made by outsiders/third parties under their authorisation. More often than not these outsiders are producing production lines particularly in non-industrial nations and because of the continuous pandemic numerous very good quality brands have revoked contracts with them. A contractual clause that allows the parties to be delivered from authoritative commitments during remarkable conditions is being added by different very good quality style organizations and Covid-19 is unquestionably an uncommon function and these organizations might be fruitful in dropping their commitments whenever tested in court.[9] This development has catastrophic ramifications for processing plant administrators and, in particular, for laborers. Additionally, because of the absence of cash and experience, industrial facility proprietors can’t make any successful legitimate move, and in light of the fact that they should keep fabricating garments for similar enterprises after the Covid-19 emergency. Their dread that these organizations may not return again surpass the dread of the impacts of the current pandemic.[10]

    Trademark law may possibly give design organizations an extra deterrence and an impetus to consent to their commitments as a result of the danger of losing their marks because of the charge that they have not practiced the control necessary.[11] Certainly, this contention could be hard to help and many will contradict it, in light of the fact that the consideration of workers and whether trademark proprietors must conform to legally binding commitments have never been remembered for any decisions as one reason for thinking about an absence of value and quality control in authorizing contractual agreements. Yet, in view of low-cost operations in developed nations, attire firms have advanced themselves for quite a long time, on account of Trademark laws. Eventually, if their proprietors don’t meet the legitimate commitments they have consented to, by what method will trademarks keep on speaking to an identification of steady quality to clients who as of now have a romanticized organization picture? These commitments are a necessary segment of a system that trademark proprietors benefit from and have campaigned to be legitimately perceived by ‘outsourcing through licensing’. For what reason would it be advisable for them to have the option to profit by this plan under trademark law, yet then desert it when it shifts and still keep their Trademark rights flawless?

    CONCLUSION

    This pandemic has awakened reflection for all of us and created an incentive to do things better and to relate to each other and ourselves in a  more  compassionate and kind manner.  Indeed, as the world is slowly and cautiously moving towards reopening, it is time for those in the fashion industry to do some soul-searching, to question themselves and devote themselves to some rethinking of these fundamental issues.

    REFERENCES

    [1] Rashid Ali, The impact of Couture (Custom-fitted) Versus Pret (Ready to Wear) garments on Customer Preferences towards the Fashion (2019) (Unpublished P.h.D. thesis, Indus University).

    [2] Ian, “Why is Haute Couture relevant in Indian Context”, onmanorama, September 6, 2020, available at: https://www.onmanorama.com/lifestyle/beauty-and-fashion/2020/09/06/haute-couture-relevant-indian-context.html (last visited on October 16, 2020).

    [3] Manish Mishra, “ Future of Fashion in the wake of Covid-19”, Hindustan times, April 6, 2020, available at:  https://www.hindustantimes.com/fashion-and-trends/future-of-fashion-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/story-qh65tc4Z4jCKPgMetThVYI.html (last visited on October 16, 2020).

    [4] “The Covid-19 Pandemic has hit the Fashion Industry hard”, Deccan Chronicle, July 5, 2020, available at: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/sunday-chronicle/style-sutra/040720/the-covid-19-pandemic-has-hit-the-fashion-industry-hard.html (last visited on October 16, 2020).

    [5] What does Covid-19 mean for the people making your clothes, available at : https://www.thefashionlaw.com/what-does-covid-19-mean-for-the-people-making-your-clothes/  (last visited on October 16, 2020).

    [6] Id. 

    [7] Sarah Kaine, Alice Payne and Justine Coneybeer, “What does Covid-19 mean for the people making your clothes”, The Conversation, May 28, 2020, available at: https://theconversation.com/what-covid-19-means-for-the-people-making-your-clothes-134800 (last visited on October 16, 2020).

    [8] Irene Calboli, “Trade mark licensing and Covid-19: why fashion companies have a duty to comply with their legal obligations”, 15 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice  489 (2020). 

    [9] Ibid.

    [10] Supra note  8 at 490.

    [11] Id.


    BY KAREN BOBBY | CHRIST UNIVERSITY

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