We are often asked by our clients to give legal advice when it comes to drawing up a contract with an agent. As consultants, we are unable to offer this. A formal legal contract must be put together by a lawyer, or else legal wording can be obtained through a relevant trade association.
However, it may be reassuring to know that in most instances a formal legal contract between yourself and an agent shouldn’t be necessary. A clearly worded email stipulating your terms will suffice and is legally binding.
Here is a five-step guide to what should be included in such an email:
1. Firstly, you must formally appoint your prospective agent and define the specific territory you are designating to him/her, i.e. "We appoint XXXX as exclusive agents for XXXX’2."
2. You should then specify that upon agreeing to work together, you will send the agent your sample collection. At the end of the selling season, the agent will have the option to either return the collection or to purchase it at a 50% discount (this is standard procedure).
3. Next, you must commit to sending out a collection however many times per year you have agreed on with the agent, i.e. "We will send you a collection XX times per year, in July and in February," (these months are given as examples).
4. You must then outline the commission the agent can expect to receive, i.e. "You will be paid XX% commission 7 days after we have received payment from the store."
5. Finally, you must inform your agent of what should be done with returned stock, i.e. "All items returned from stores should be sent back to us. We will pay the freight costs of all returned items."
It is generally a good idea to be flexible with your wording and to negotiate this informal contract with your agent until both parties are happy with the arrangement.
When in correspondence with your prospective agent, you should let them know your target turnover - both for your first season and first year of selling. At this stage it is best to stick to realistic targets and to avoid being over-ambitious. Work out a turnover figure that would mean breaking even or making a small profit.
We hope that this acts as a useful guide to creating an effective agreement with a fashion agent.