Our winning team of attorneys and professionals represents the fashion and design industries in the key areas of law that affect their businesses throughout the world. Our clients include local and global fashion and footwear wholesalers, designers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors and licensees that manufacture, market and/or sell apparel, footwear, eyewear, undergarments, jewelry, luggage, bags, home décor and other accessories. Team members pool their experience and knowledge to provide clients with one-stop shopping for the legal services they need to compete in this global economy.
Our responsive team provides flexible, scalable solutions based on a client’s needs. We are also a member of Lex Mundi, an association of 21,000 attorneys practicing in 160 law firms in more than 100 countries.
We support our fashion and design clients in a broad range of matters across a variety of practice areas. Perhaps one of the most memorable was a case for Victoria’s Secret.
The company wanted to hire the chairman of Foley’s Department Store as its chief operating officer. The only problem: his former employer, the May Department Stores Co., tried to block it based on the executive’s noncompete agreement.
Enter Armstrong Teasdale partner Bill Corrigan who, as co-lead attorney on the case, argued that the sexy lingerie chain and the mainstream department store were not competitors in the sale of underwear. In a landmark decision, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that Victoria’s Secret “markets sex appeal” to women “specifically in their mid-twenties.” Because May’s core customers were women aged 40 to 50, the noncompete agreement didn’t apply.
In addition to this success, our Fashion and Design team has extensive experience providing effective service in a number of areas:
- Represented global apparel and footwear retailers and wholesalers in drafting, reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts. These include agreements with distributors in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Provided securities and corporate governance counseling to a publicly traded footwear company.
- Counseled a national clothing and accessories retailer in the restructuring of its executive compensation and ownership.
- Represented a private equity fund in a middle market acquisition of a handbag manufacturer.
- Provided IP counseling to global clothing, accessories, footwear and outdoor recreation products manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.
- Developed a robust product design review program to minimize infringement claims.
- Evaluated footwear and accessories for potential utility and design patents.
- Counseled and defended a client in connection with its claims that third parties were infringing its luggage design patents.
- Drafted and reviewed marketing materials and webpages for a major national footwear retailer.
- Policed Internet infringement for a major national footwear retailer.
- Provided IP counseling for a major sock company seeking to enhance brand management and IP portfolio value.
- Responded to allegations of infringement related to footwear, handbag and sock designs.
- Represented an Italian luxury fashion brand regarding its corporate, intellectual property, e-commerce and compliance matters in China.
- Advised a premium British fashion jewelry brand regarding its Chinese business, intellectual property and licensing matters.
- Advised a leading British high street fashion brand regarding its Chinese operations.
- Assisted a global footwear company in identifying and responding to international intellectual property infringement and counterfeiting issues.
- Identified import duty savings opportunities and reviewed transactions for customs compliance for apparel and footwear sales by a large big box retailer.
- Advocated for foreign manufacturers and U.S. importers of retail products in antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings before the Court of International Trade.
- Responded to formal and informal inquiries from U.S. Customs related to classification and valuation of retail merchandise, including apparel and footwear.
- Advised a major British fashion brand regarding its franchising business in China.
Franchising and Licensing
- Developed franchise documents for a specialty footwear retailer with a well-established store in the Mall of America.
- Represented a global footwear company regarding license agreements in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia for the company’s store concept and the manufacturing, marketing and selling of footwear, handbags and apparel on a wholesale and retail basis.
- Represented a public footwear company licensee with respect to the licensing of numerous trademarks owned by celebrities and designers used in the company’s products.
Employment and Labor
- Counseled a national clothing and accessories retailer regarding various employment and separation issues.
- Represented a national department store chain against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suits.
- Acted as local counsel for a race discrimination, defamation and service letter violation case against a national women’s lingerie chain and a current store manager.
- Advised a British fashion accessory company regarding employment matters.
- Successfully represented a home and body fragrance chain in several class actions regarding alleged defects in home fragrance products.
- Defended an international footwear company in connection with a claim for copyright infringement of a shoe design.
- Defended a major department store against personal injury, false arrest and malicious prosecution claims in multiple lawsuits.
- Obtained a favorable settlement in a trademark lawsuit involving the primary brand for a national footwear retailer and another major big box retailer.
- Obtained a favorable settlement for a national footwear retailer in a trademark and copyright infringement matter involving infringement by an Internet-based business.
- Successfully defended two national retailers against false arrest and premises liability allegations.
Financial Restructuring, Reorganization and Bankruptcy
Represented a secured lender as part of an auction of the assets of a large manufacturer of coats and clothing.
Represented a secured lender of a manufacturer of coats and clothing in a dispute about pricing, sales, setoffs and industry standards beyond the contract terms.
Represented a secured lender in a dispute about the rights of a large manufacturer of coats and clothing to sell an intellectual property license.