Arent Fox is one of the premier US law firms representing fashion and design houses, apparel manufacturers and retailers, and luxury goods companies.
Our fashion attorneys act as outside general counsel and regulatory and retail counsel for a number of well-known designer brands such as Escada, Lacoste, Diesel, Hugo Boss, Fila, and The Limited Brands, providing advice on all aspects of the business at every phase of a product’s lifecycle, beginning with the creation of a design and continuing through to marketing and distribution of the product.
In an increasingly globalized and Internet-based world, designers and retailers of fashion and luxury products face unique challenges, making it especially important to retain versatile legal counsel who understand the issues specific to this fast-paced and constantly evolving industry. Arent Fox has extensive experience in the areas of retail and online distribution, branding, labeling, and advertising as well as licensing, anti-counterfeiting, grey market goods, and compliance with import/export and customs requirements. We represent clients in complex commercial and employment litigation and disputes, including defense of class actions. We also advise on business formation and structuring, joint ventures and franchise relationships, and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, we counsel clients in the areas of executive compensation, employee benefits, compliance with employment and labor laws as well as real estate and retail leasing.
Our attorneys have represented some of the most famous names in the industry including Benetton, Geox, Peek & Cloppenburg, Camper, LVMH, BCBG, Max Mara, Escada, Just Cavalli, Maison Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, DSquared2, The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), Personal Care Products Council, and Jimmy Choo.
Advertising, Data Collection & Privacy
For its fashion and luxury goods clients, Arent Fox has developed processes for the collection of customer data at store fronts and via the Internet. In this regard, we have assisted clients with the implementation of global privacy policies that allow for the transfer of customer and employee data across borders and for the use of that data for all types of purposes, from internal uses to marketing to data mining. On the advertising side, we review our clients’ advertisements for claims and comparisons. Our attorneys have also worked with our clients in global sweepstakes and contests to gather consumer data and promote their brand.
Class Action Defense
Arent Fox has substantial experience in defending class action or regulatory litigation matters based on wage and hour, misclassification, false advertising, and Prop 65 claims. We have not only obtained very favorable settlements for our retail and fashion clients but have also been successful in having their claims dismissed outright.
E-Commerce, Online Distribution & Fulfillment
Arent Fox is the leading law firm for handling intellectual property issues for fashion and luxury goods clients. We have extensive experience protecting our clients’ brands and designs, and defending them from challenges to their marks and designs. Our attorneys have defended trademark, patent, and copyright lawsuits related to suits brought by competitors challenging our clients’ right to use their mark. We have also obtained groundbreaking court decisions in the area of counterfeit and grey market products such as when we successfully worked to essentially shut down Canal Street from selling one of our client’s products and won a decision against a large big box retailer from selling grey market goods.
International Corporate, Importation & Immigration
Arent Fox has one of the largest international trade practices in the United States and has assisted its clients across the full range of trade enforcement and compliance matters. Of particular relevance to fashion clients is our background in focused assessments, importer self-assessments, investigations, and penalty proceedings involving Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We have represented fashion houses on all aspects of these proceedings and in working within the very complex rules relating to country of origin and valuation (including the so-called “first sale rule”). Arent Fox also has significant worldwide experience in drafting international corporate documents to minimize the risks on the foreign corporate parent, including related to issues of transfer pricing.
Labor & Employment
Arent Fox has substantial experience advising its fashion and luxury goods clients in all aspects of labor and employment counseling and litigation. We are regularly called upon to review and audit our clients’ existing policies, procedures and practices to help reduce potential exposure. We train retail managers and rank and file employees on compliance with labor and employment laws. We advise retailers on complex human resources issues like wage and hour matters, dealing with ill and injured employees, discipline and termination decisions, investigation of internal discrimination and harassment complaints, and uniforms and clothing allowances. Our attorneys negotiate and draft executive employment and separation agreements as well as nondisclosure, nonsolicitation and noncompetition agreements. When disputes develop, we defend our clients in arbitrations, in claims before federal and state administrative agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Department of Labor, and in federal and state courts across the country. We also represent our fashion and luxury goods clients in lawsuits against former employees and competitors for misappropriation of trade secrets, enforcement of restrictive covenants and other claims involving unfair competition.
We are frequently called upon to advise and defend our retail clients in legal matters relating to their status as "public accommodations" under a variety of federal and state laws. These matters can range from dealing with disgruntled customers who claim they were discriminated against by store employees, to defending clients who are being sued for violating the accessibility requirements for individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.
Real Estate & Leasing
Arent Fox has negotiated on behalf of our fashion and luxury goods clients with virtually every major commercial landlord that owns a mall or outlet in a key market. As such, Arent Fox understands what tenant-favorable concessions may be acceptable at a certain location. This market and location specific knowledge can be used to assist fashion and luxury goods clients to negotiate an efficient and favorable business deal as well as a legal structure. We are also experienced in assisting our clients in the management and organization of its leasing portfolios, which enables us to also provide advice and strategy as to maximizing “brick and mortar” assets. Our attorneys have advised clients on the best corporate structures for entering into leases to help shield other assets, and where appropriate, in devising and effectuating economical strategies for right-sizing real estate portfolios.
Regulatory, Recall & Prop 65
Arent Fox represents a number of fashion, luxury goods, and personal care products companies on a wide range of regulatory and product safety issues. Specifically, we have assisted companies in crafting product claims to avoid unnecessary Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Also, we have advised clients on many issues related to product development and most marketing compliance matters such as product defects and reporting obligations that may exist. In addition, we have assisted clients in recalling those products in the event there is a health or safety issue. We have worked with a number of our clients on the complex and unique issues presented by Prop 65 in the state of California.