Working for companies that license their brands

If you are in apparel, footwear or accessories, chances are you have worked for a company that designs, produces and sells products that licenses the intellectual property from a different entity.

Most job seekers fail to think about the impact of licensing on their job and career. Below is an article we posted recently but we’d really like to know what other issues people might have faced in working for a company who’s product’s IP are controlled through licensing arrangements.

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I was Creative Director for two brands owned by Perry Ellis, who licensed them out across multiple categories of fashion to other companies, from activewear to evening wear.

One brand I designed for they decided to license out once creating enough collections brought attention from outside vendors. Perry Ellis didn’t want to manufacture in house anymore.
They sold the license and everyone was out of a job because they DID their job creating enough strong selling seasons it built up enough value to finally be sold after being up for sale for 6 years, unbeknownst to the entire design team.
As a result everyone either lost their jobs or were transferred to another in house brand .

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Most of the companies I’ve worked for licensed at least some of their product to other companies and a few owned licenses for other companies. It’s done because either the product type isn’t in the company’s manufacturing wheelhouse but is still necessary to create a total brand lifestyle or to save money (or both). It’s one thing if adidas licenses their socks to Gildan or Nike licenses their swimsuits to Perry Ellis. It’s another if [insert brand everyone has heard of] just wants plausible deniability on sourcing decisions. Gildan and Perry Ellis as far as I’m aware have responsible sourcing and environmental practices. In the other case, who knows? The Rana Plaza disaster is a prime example. There were all kinds of familiar labels in the rubble but those companies were able to deny they had any knowledge of their product being made there. They simply worked with an agent to source a product that looked like what they wanted at the price they wanted to pay. There was no vetting of factories or raw material suppliers to ensure the company’s publicized environmental and social standards were being met. Licensing out product can result in the same scenario. It can be OK but takes diligence on the part of the brand to ask the right questions and then continually inspect the product and manufacturers for quality and responsible practices.