By Sewe Ishola,
Issues surrounding the need for players in the fashion industry to have formal structure and also appropriate legal protection for their creative products took centrestage at the recently held Fashion Brunch organised by Jowy Fashion consulting in Lagos.
The fashion brunch which held at the Ayo Van Elmar fashion Café had in attendance, fashion entrepreneurs, who not only got to learn about to the need to scale up their businesses but also to had the opportunity to network with colleagues in the industry.
According to one of the lawyers who spoke at the gathering, Bisola Blaize, fashion entrepreneurs often fear forming a company due to the consequential remittances and taxes that may be levelled against such business but she admonished that for businesses to be taken seriously, then forming a company was the way to go.
“The main fear of fashion entrepreneur is double taxation, like an instance that was mentioned here of two different taxation agencies coming after one establishment. There is also the fear of forming a company, where at the end of the day, you are not making profit and government agencies expect you to make remittances.
At the end of the day, they have to take that step, because without forming a company, you cannot approach a bank for loan and they will take you seriously. Forming a company presents you to the world as a brand who is ready to do business.
Blaize went on to explain the other types of business ownership, however, she noted that forming a company, which could be owned by 1-50 persons is the best format for fashion entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the brunch, the curator of the fashion brunch, Joan Gbefwi noted that the “Fashion brunch is a quarterly event and for this edition, we have lawyers, who helped us to shed light on the legal aspects of our industry.”
Gbefwi also revealed her motivation for hosting the brunch, “I’m very passionate about fashion. Not just about the glitz and glamour of fashion, to me, fashion is work. Through work, I pay my bills. If it is productive, then it is all good for us. I’m happy to see fashion doing so great in Nigeria. I schooled in Milan, Italy and for them, fashion is a big deal. I remember that there was fashion week and their then Prime Minister Berlusconi came out to speak, it was like President Buhari coming to speak to Nigerians on fashion. I don’t know if Nigeria will get there but I hope that Nigeria will, because Nigerians are very fashion forward people.”
Another lawyer, who spoke at the brunch was the Managing partner of Azetc Solicitors, Efunyinka Osipitan who explained the different forms of legal protection available to creatives in the fashion industry, from copyrighting of their designs to getting patents, to trademarks.
Osipitan however made it known that given the absence of strong laws to protect fashion creatives in Nigeria, trademarking their sketches, logo and brands were the next best legal protection they could have.
According to the curator, Gbefwi, “the Fashion brunch is meant to grow productivity in the fashion industry, so I invite people from across the entire value chain, from designers, stylists photographers, fashion academies, PR and I always have an headliner outside the core of fashion to tell us how to grow our business and how our industry and their industry can do business together.”