If you weren't sure that fashion thrives on copying and quick trends, check out this story in the New York Times, profiling European retailer Topshop. The retailer managed $922 million in sales in a year, and during peak shopping periods has up to two to three deliveries of merchandise a day.
By keeping manufacturing runs limited, Topshop has created what Ms. Shepherdson calls a “dynamic of desperation,” that has customers feverishly zooming in on sought-after items, enticing them to visit all the time.
Topshop expertly capitalizes on the fashion industry's ability to set new trends. When Topshop, like other retails such as H&M and Zara, copies runway fashions and offers affordable versions, they help to create trends, drive up demand and increase sales.
That's one of the reasons why a copyright for fashion design is a terrible idea and the movement for creating one may be losing steam. A copyright law would stop a retailer like Topshop from being able to turn out a new jacket within weeks of seeing something like it on the runway in Paris. By the time designers go through the formalities of licensing agreements or litigation for copyright infringements, the chance to create the trend will have passed, consumer demand will wane and ultimately the fashion industry will lose.
For more on trends and the fashion industry, check out this article by Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman.