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Fast Fashion and the Legal Implications For Your eCommerce Business 

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There are many eCommerce brands that specialise in fashion retail online stores. You may be one of these fashion companies and are likely part of the fast fashion business. eCommerce has considerably changed the availability of fashion in the fashion industry through social media channels such as Instagram and TikTok. As an online fast fashion brand, the business may, therefore, be booming. However, there are legal implications for fast fashion companies, such as your eCommerce business, which you must be aware of and comply with. This article will answer what is fast fashion and explain the legal consequences for your UK eCommerce business in the UK.

What is Fast Fashion?

You have probably heard the term ‘fast fashion’ many times over recent years and rightly associate it with the negative impact it has on the environment. Fast fashion causes pollution and workers often receive low wages and work in unsafe environments. Fast fashion is, however, a crucial part of today’s fashion industry and started booming in the 1990s. It is a term that describes how fashion is produced today and the accessibility of it. It provides:

  • affordable clothes prices for customers;
  • fashion to the majority; and
  • a fast profit for fashion companies.

If you work in the fast fashion online industry, there are, however, legal implications for your online brand that you must be aware of.

Whilst there are no UK laws that are specifically in the palace to cover fast fashion, there are laws that affect a fast fashion eCommerce business.

1) UK Modern Slavery Act 2015

The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 is relevant to your fast fashion eCommerce brand. Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry, including fast fashion eCommerce brands, is renowned for exploiting workers, which can mean:

  • long working hours;
  • poor wages;
  • lack of rest breaks; and
  • failure to include sick pay.

This is, unfortunately, a form of modern slavery. Therefore, if you are a fashion fashion online brand, you must:

  • make sure that fast fashion supply chains prevent modern slavery, and where it is identified, take steps to mitigate it; and
  • six months before the end of the financial year, publish an annual statement to explain what you have done for point one above.

2) Intellectual Property Laws

A key legal implication of fast fashion for online brands is intellectual property (IP) issues. The fashion industry is a creative industry where design and branding are crucial to success. Therefore, you must comply with laws in this area and ensure you do not, for example:

  • engage in copyright infringements; or
  • use another brand’s logo and find yourself in a legal battle for trade mark infringement.

Since the UK left the EU, unregistered design protection laws have changed in how they protect fast fashion brands. This is because designers only have protection in the country they initially disclose their design in, which is the UK, rather than in all EU countries. Therefore, if, as a fast fashion eCommerce brand, you also design your fashion products, you need to be wary of this legal implication.

3) Consumer Laws Governing Customers’ Right to Return

Consumer protection law means online brands like yours must offer consumers the right to return products. However, for the fast fashion industry, returns are frequent. Therefore, fast fashion eCommerce brands are causing a problem for the environment through this. For example, clothing ends up on landfill sites.

Whilst it is not a legal requirement that your fashion brand takes action to mitigate this, many online fashion retail outlets are attempting to reduce their impact on the environment. For example, some brands are:

  • donating returns;
  • recycling; or
  • charging for returns incentivising customers to spend wisely and less impulsively.

Therefore, as a fast fashion brand, you may want to play your part in helping to minimise the impact of the environment of your quick fashion online business.

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Key Takeaways

Fast fashion is a growing part of the online fashion business and has the potential to make your eCommerce brand a success. However, if you are a fast fashion eCommerce business, there are legal implications for your business that you should be aware of. For example, the UK Modern Slavery Act requires you to take action as a fast fashion brand. Furthermore, you should be wary of copyright and trade mark infringement claims. Finally, you should consider the environmental impact of returned products in fast fashion.

If you need help understanding what fast fashion is and how your eCommerce business may be affected by the laws governing fast fashion, contact our experienced eCommerce lawyers as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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