Although we trust that fashion will keep surprising us and it is very difficult to make forecasts, here you have our guess on the top five fashion predictions for this year.

1. Raise of non-traditional trademarks: perfumes on the top of the list

With the implementation of the new Regulation (EU) No. 2015/2424 amending the Community trade mark Regulation, entering into force on 23 March 2016, there will be significant changes in the areas of examination proceedings, absolute grounds of refusal, relative grounds of refusal, goods and services, opposition and cancellation proceedings and appeals. Among the most significant news, non-traditional trademarks should be registered more easily since the requirement to represent the mark “graphically” will no longer apply. This will facilitate the long-awaited registration of fragrances as trademarks and will be a great opportunity not only for perfume manufacturers, but also for fashion houses. We could think already of one paramount example of a distinctive fragrance, which reveals the existence of very popular teen-ager store in the neighborhood. Guess which one!

2. Interactive fitting rooms, smart mirrors and management of data: avoiding headaches

Interactive fitting rooms and smart mirrors are among the ultimate trends in the fashion arena. For instance, in the course of their fitting experience, customers can enter their phone number into the touch screen to receive a text with a link to the items that they tried on, so that such items could be bought in store or later online. Retailers should also benefit from the data gathered from the mirror, including how long customers spend in fitting rooms, how many items they bring in, the individual items’ traffic and the relevant conversion rates. But what are the implications of these new devices in terms of privacy, as well as management and transfer of users’ data? We expect that such data will be key for fashion houses, who will try to exploit them as much as possible. Thus, it would be important to develop new best practices for the management of customers’ data in order to avoid pitfalls. In addition, the software used and its graphic interfaces should be duly protected through copyright and design. In this regard, it will be crucial to secure the relevant ownership of such rights and protect the graphic appearance of the software interfaces against third parties’ software presenting the same look and feel.

3. New wars over shapes

Fashion disputes for the protection of shapes are increasing and so are the ways to protect fashion creations: be it through 3D trademarks, unregistered or registered designs (which are more often enforced and granted with wider protection), unfair competition or even copyright (see the worldwide Longchamp battle over the Pliage bag). We expect that 2016 will be no different, as shown by a recent decision of the Court of Milan, granting protection to the interior concept of stores, and by the recent US registration as a trade dress of a very iconic tote belonging to a well-known French fashion brand.

4. Developing agreements with fashion bloggers

Many brands have formed strategic partnerships with one or more influential fashion bloggers in sponsorship arrangements and design collaborations. But, as already highlighted here, to achieve the desired effect, it is important for the brand to handle the brand-blogger relationship correctly. At present, nearly no fashion house has entered into contracts clearly setting out the nature and duration of the relationship and the mutual rights and obligations of the parties. Now that the activities of fashion bloggers have raised the attention of regulatory bodies, like the Italian Self-Regulatory Advertising Body, it is likely that a new standard contracts will be devised by fashion houses, possibly taking into due account advertising and endorsement regulations, which often differs significantly from country to country.

5. More “Made in” to come

After the setting up of the Italian Fashion and Accessory Commitee last December, with the aim of putting together representatives of the industry and governmental bodies, we expect that Made in Italy will boost and perhaps new kind of signs will develop to indicate that an item has been completely manufactured in Italy or that certain garments are made with raw materials exclusively coming from Italy. This trend has been already followed by some Italian fashion houses, which have inaugurated their lines of clothing made out of 100% Italian yarns. As a consequence of the above, we expect that custom measures and controls by the relevant custom authorities will increase (and maybe fines too).