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Another Take on COVID-19 & Fashion

By the time you read this article, some things will be different, and the way it looks now, most things will be different — at least when it comes to those matters related to fashion. For example, we are starting to see legal matters with retailers happening throughout the country; Neiman Marcus and JCPenney have filed for bankruptcy, and many smaller retailers have already filed or have gone out of business all together.

Trademark litigation has increased dramatically. The fashion industry has traditionally been a hot spot for infringers trying to use the registered trademarks of fashion designers — from the smallest one-mark users to the internationally known designers. Such use has been closely followed by trademark litigation in the federal courts. However, the courts are mostly closed due to pandemic-related rules and regulations. Getting to trial is essentially impossible, and the trademark infringers keep using the registered marks being infringed upon with little or no concern.

Government funding programs have gone into effect, with banks and the Small Business Administration being deluged with applicants for funds to keep businesses alive or to compensate employees whose wages have been curtailed. Some funds are based on donations from businesses, individuals and even other countries. However important these funds are, there never seems to be enough money to satisfy all the requests.

Deliveries of fashion goods have been substantially stopped. Factories all over the world have closed, and unemployment claims have exceeded anything we have seen since the Great Depression. Summer and Fall fashion goods may no longer exist for the balance of 2020, and this may continue into 2021. Department stores and specialty shops are closed, as many are in great financial danger, and goods on order have been canceled. We hear of some women’s specialty stores calling regular customers to announce certain fashion items are available and back-door appointments being made for cash-only purchases.

Staying at home as given rise to some new ideas about what fashion is in these trying times. We see TV personalities on camera at home in their pajama bottoms. Working from their living room, home office or even from a garage, many people exclusively wear T-shirts or an outfit normally worn for jogging. Athleisure is even more popular than usual since people have started staying in their homes.

Then there are the daily briefings given by mayors, governors and even the President. They all dress fashionably, usually wearing appropriate suits and ties, but very few are wearing masks or standing six feet apart. How do they get excused when the rest of us must wear a mask and practice social distancing every time we leave the house?

No matter what is happening in this new world created by COVID-19, there seems to be a fashion footnote. Fashion will be forever changed. It already has changed in most aspects of our lives, including what we wear, when we wear it and what our individual fashions are when we stay at home. It will be interesting to see what long-term effects the virus has on the way people dress and what they choose to put in their closets, as well as how clothing stores recover.

Benjamin S. Seigel, Esq., is of Counsel to the firm of G&B Law LLP. He can be reached at bseigel@gblawllp.com.

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