Milan Fashion Week and Fashion Law Trends – Colour trade marks: the maisons’ strategic

In Fashion

Today marks the end of this edition of Milan Fashion Week SS2023, which saw colourful dresses with ton sur ton combinations on the catwalk, between similar and complementary nuances, as well as our fashion law column. Fil-rouge among fashion maisons of this MFW edition is colour.

One of the representatives of this trend in Italy is Valentino Garavani, who – from the Paris défilé to that in Milan – made pink the undisputed protagonist of the catwalks, making it a true philosophy of life.

Website, social pages and atelier are all pink-coloured, a shade studied and developed in collaboration with the Pantone Institute and named ‘Pink PP’. An exaltation of genderless style and absolute individuality, the collection named ‘Pink PP collection’ saw a succession of female and male proposals on the catwalks, clearing all gender stereotypes in matters of colour.

It is the need to make themselves eye catching and interesting that increasingly drives maisons to search for powerful new means to make their brand identity shine. And it is colour that takes the leading role, becoming a real brand for maisons, both in commercial and legal terms.

It was thanks to the US Supreme Court in the early 1990s that it was decreed that a colour could serve as an indicator of origin, giving companies the possibility of protecting a colour in the same way as a traditional trade mark. Fundamental requirement: the so-called secondary meaning, the acquisition of enhanced distinctiveness through the use and reputation of the trade mark itself, allowing consumers to trace a certain colour back to a single brand. We are talking about the case of the iconic colour mark ‘1837 Blue’ owned by Tiffany&Co., subsequently recognised by Pantone as the official PMS 1837 colour, which has become a symbol of the maison since its foundation back in 1837.

Since colours influence the way consumers see a brand, there is no denying that the use of colours in branding, physical and online shops design and advertising must be consistent with the brand’s mission and vision. In fact, in a study called Impact of Colour in Marketing, researchers found that 90% of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by colours that convey different feelings, based on multiple factors.

Not only Tiffany&Co. and Valentino, but also Louboutin, Bottega Veneta, Tom Brady, IWC and many other fashion maisons have chosen a colour as their distinguishing mark, adopting the so-called ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ where to win one must innovate and move away from markets that are likened to red oceans of ruthless competition. Colour trade marks are, therefore, a strategy to cope with the state of the fashion and luxury goods market, which is completely saturated with traditional brands. The use of colours as indicators of origin by fashion maisons are, in fact, part of a broader strategy of complementing word and figurative mark registrations with colour mark registrations that add an important element to define the origin of their products/services in a more appealing and immediate manner. Everything, therefore, revolves around the power of visual communication of a colour that is used not only as the only shade in a collection but also on packaging, in advertising campaigns and visual merchandising in physical shops.

Bottega Veneta, for example, with its ‘Bottega green’ shade has been a great success, so much so that it was named the ‘colour of the year’ in 2021. From accessories to all the branding operations mentioned above, Bottega Veneta has incorporated such colour in its advertising campaigns, in its shops, in its initiatives up to the ‘conquering’ of one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Great Wall of China, where in January 2022 a screen was installed adhering to the route of the Wall in the shade ‘Bottega green’, with a message of good wishes for the Chinese New Year written on it in the Mandarin shade. The ‘Bottega green’ has thus become the symbol of recognition of the Italian company, part of the Kering luxury group, renowned for its leather products, in the same way as its name and its characteristic woven design.

Christian Louboutin also owns intellectual property rights on its ‘Chinese red’ shade, which has become the distinctive trade mark and status symbol of the fashion house, used to identify the iconic sole under its shoes. Likewise, Hermès has acquired IP rights on the shade of orange used mainly in the exteriors of packaging, advertising campaigns and visual merchandising in physical shops.

And again, Elsa Schiaparelli with her shocking pink in an intense, decisive and bright shade. Created in 1937 by the designer, thanks to public approval, in no time this colour became her undisputed symbol so much so that the Tod’s group took over the brand in 2006.

Every shade hides a story, an emotion and today more than ever it ignites the desire and admiration of those who love haute couture. This evolution of brands from complex graphics full of detail to single shades of colour represents the awareness of being able to use such identifying element to create a more powerful and immediate communication that will remain impressed in consumers’ minds for a longer time. A memory of exclusive, carefully studied and thought-out shades that represent the maisons worldwide.

Read More: Milan Fashion Week and Fashion Law Trends – Colour trade marks: the maisons’ strategic

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