IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section


In a globalised world, how does one ensure control of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the fashion industry?

Fashion houses, India
With technology, it has become easier to ensure IPR

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is important to industry, but is discussed less for a variety of reasons. Fibre2Fashion speaks to few designers seeking their viewpoint on the same.


We own our trademark and copyright for our individual designs. As an internal design philosophy, we foster an environment of fundamental innovation. Therefore, we don’t typically hire people who have worked with other players, but freshers. IPR is a tough nut to crack, especially in the context of our industry. I am sure legal experts are working on solving the issue, but I feel that this is more of a behavioural issue that needs every person in the industry to change.

With technology, it has become easier to ensure IPR. However, design is something that cannot be fully controlled. There are always people who try to replicate designs. With the rise of social media, there are major challenges in controlling designs. The challenge in the future is definitely also about controlling fast fashion from replicating design elements.

Although it’s challenging to really differentiate between what’s gold and what’s just gold-plated, a person who has the eye for fashion and understands fabrics can always make out by analysing the product/outfit through its touch and feel. What makes a luxury brand different is the quality of fabrics, the detailing and the overall finesse, apart from the unique and novel design.

Designers invest in creating and marketing their designs; hence, protecting them also becomes a priority. Something as abstract as design which has various forms and elements and any element can be picked and made into a different creation altogether. A lehenga with mirror-embroidered border can be remade into a different lehenga altogether by adding mirror work to a wider border or adding prints to the lehenga. In such cases, one cannot call it violation of IPR. However, one can patent the different embroidery technique that was applied on the mirror work. A technique which needs innovative machinery or the skill developed by the designer.

The industry is growing, and with that come the pros and cons. The growth of computer-aided construction will surely help in more technical cuts. However, with the boom in social media, every designer’s latest creation is easily available at our fingertips. The challenge is to strive and keep a strong brand profile, and stick to the core of the design philosophy.

These things shall keep flowing through and the only way to alleviate this pain is by concentrating on your selling point. The focus needs to shift from copy competition to value addition, based on goodwill and the hunger to serve only the best. At Steele, we believe in serving bespoke garments for our discerning clients and this helps us move forward.


Published on: 23/12/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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