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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Luxury Brands: The second life of a luxury brand

What are the implications of sustainability, circular fashion, upcycling and re-making for luxury brands? This question was addressed in the second part of the fourth MARQUES Luxury Brands Symposium, which is taking place in Florence, Italy this week.

Davide Bresner, Bresner Cammareri, Italy moderated a panel comprising Edanela Perez Broce, Tommy Hilfiger, The Netherlands; Andreas Lubberger, Lubberger Lehment, Germany; Fabrizio Consoli, CEO of Blue of a Kind, Italy; Gio Giacobbe, CEO of ACBC S.r.l, Italy; and Anne-Christine Polet, Head of Stitch, The Netherlands.

“Sustainability is no longer an option, it is essential” said Davide, who set out the legal framework in Europe and Italy and explained how it governs issues such as greenwashing and green marketing. The speakers then shared their views on how their brands are addressing sustainability.

Edanela introduced a video from Tommy Hilfiger himself, who said: “We can change the way we work and the clothes we make. That’s why we’re doing everything in our power to create fashion that wastes nothing and welcomes all.”

“We all need to start thinking about our footprint and how we can improve things,” said Edanela. For Tommy Hilfiger, that includes designing products that last longer and can be reused/recycled, and being inclusive in terms of both products and workplaces. She added that when Tommy Hilfiger appoints law firms, they want to know that they share similar values.

“As an IP and legal department, this is a whole new business and we get difficult questions,” she added. Questions to ask include: are claims always clear and easy to understand? Can we back up sustainability claims with data? Are we 100% honest about sustainability practices and plans? Are our partners properly protected and compliant? How do we manage and enforce second hand product sales, including where they are embellished?

Anne-Christine, founder of fashion tech company Stitch, talked about how digital and technology can make the industry more sustainable. Today, she said the focus is mostly on the end but it needs to be throughout the value chain. “We need to change what and how much gets created, and how collections get sold,” she said, adding: “We believe in a value chain that is mostly digital.”

Attendees enjoyed a Champagne Reception on the top of the Grand Hotel Baglioni on Thursday evening

One big problem to fix in the fashion industry is traceability, which initiatives such as the Aura Blockchain Consortium aim to address. Another is how to incentivise re-selling of branded goods. Industry standards need to be created to foster better collaboration, and there also needs to be “a new mindset” she said.

ACBC (which stands for Anything Can Be Changed) was also founded to change the fashion industry, said Gio. Shoes are the most polluting product in fashion, and ACBC aims to make 1% of the market sustainable. It has partnered with more than 40 brands on services such as analysis and labelling, materials, design, supply chain, carbon offsetting, audit/certification and marketing support.

While every brand now wants to be 100% sustainable, Gio said there is a balance between ethics, aesthetics, durability and price, but designers can rise to the challenge: “Designers will come out with even more innovative things than before.” It has standardised the upcycling process.

Fabrizio of Italian fashion brand Blue of a Kind, which makes clothes exclusively from pre-existing garments and repurposed fabrics, explained the challenges of developing a sustainable new brand and stressed the importance of addressing both consumption and sustainability together

In the final presentation of the session, Andreas discussed some of the legal issues arising from the “second life” of brands, including exhaustion of trade mark rights. He discussed in particular:

He concluded that the courts have indicated that trade mark owners should be able to have some influence on the later sale and use of their products, and “a little door is opening” for luxury brands to restrict further sales in certain circumstances. He added that this could apply for example where companies invest in the sustainability of brands: “They can give new influence to trade mark owners.”

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MARQUES does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this blog. The views are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of MARQUES. Seek professional advice before action on any information included here.

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