WASHINGTON — As the global economic situation continues to deteriorate, U.S. trade officials are concerned China could regress on intellectual property protections, according to a new report.
According to an annual “priority watch list” released by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Thursday, reports have emerged that despite increased attention to intellectual property rights in China, officials there are pushing for less stringent enforcement efforts, a trend of particular concern for apparel and footwear companies struggling to protect their brands abroad.
“I am particularly troubled by reports that Chinese officials are urging more lenient enforcement of IPR [intellectual property rights] laws, motivated by the financial crisis and the need to maintain jobs,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “China needs to strengthen its approach to IPR protection and enforcement, not weaken it.”
China was one of 12 countries named on the USTR’s priority watch list for countries that don’t adequately safeguard or enforce intellectual property rights. The list also included Russia, India, Thailand, Pakistan, and, for the first time, Canada.
According to the most recent statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, $102.3 million worth of fake shoes was seized in fiscal year 2008. An additional $25.1 million of apparel and $29.6 million of handbags, wallets and backpacks were seized during the same period. China was the source of 81 percent of all goods seized for intellectual property violations in 2008.
It is important for the U.S. to maintain a strict trademark and copyright policy to protect apparel and footwear companies, said Kevin Burke, president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
The Silk Street Market in Beijing was named as “an egregious example” of the counterfeiting of consumer products that is “endemic” in markets throughout China, the report said. The notorious market, where many counterfeit apparel and accessories can be found, has been the focus of a number of government and industry efforts to protect U.S. brands in China. Despite pressure from authorities to improve compliance beginning in 2005, “the intervening years have brought limited progress,” the report said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast