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Exclusivity in the fashion industry: Why it matters!

As a surface pattern designer, I am often asked by other designers why I mostly offer exclusive buyouts rather than licensing my designs. Before I explain why, here is a quick explanation of the differences:

Exclusive Buyout

  • Ownership: The buyer gets full ownership of the design.

  • Usage: The buyer can use the design in any way they choose, indefinitely.

  • Artist Rights: The artist retains no rights to the design and cannot sell or use it again.

  • Price: This option is the most expensive because the rights are completely transferred to the buyer.

Exclusive License

  • Usage Rights: The buyer gets sole rights to use the design for specific purposes, such as a single product category or industry.

  • Duration: The license is usually for a set period.

  • Artist Rights: The artist retains ownership but cannot license or sell the design to anyone else during the agreement.

  • Price: This option is a good middle ground as the buyer still has exclusivity (but for a set period)

Non-Exclusive License

  • Usage Rights: The buyer can use the design, but so can others. This means the same artwork can be re-used within multiple product categories and industries.

  • Duration: The license is usually for a set period.

  • Artist Rights: The artist retains ownership and can license or sell the design to multiple parties simultaneously.

  • Price: This option is the most affordable as there is no exclusivity to any particular buyer.

In this blog post, I will explore why the fashion design industry prefers purchasing exclusive print designs rather than licensing!

Now that you understand the differences between a buyout, exclusive license and non-exclusive license, let's explore the reasons why fashion brands prefer buyouts:

1. Unique Identity and Branding

Exclusivity Enhances Brand Identity: In the highly competitive fashion industry, brands strive to stand out. Exclusive print designs help create a unique brand identity and differentiate products from competitors. When a brand uses an exclusive print, it ensures that the design is uniquely associated with the brand, fostering a distinctive and memorable image.

2. Market Differentiation

Avoiding Market Saturation: Exclusive designs prevent other brands from using the same prints, reducing the risk of market saturation. If multiple brands use the same design, it can dilute the impact and perceived value of the product. Exclusivity ensures that the brand's products remain distinct and desirable.

3. Perceived Value and Prestige

Higher Perceived Value: Consumers often perceive exclusive designs as more luxurious and desirable. This perception can justify higher price points and enhance the brand's prestige. Exclusive designs contribute to the narrative of rarity and exclusivity, which is highly valued in the fashion world.

4. Control Over Usage

Full Control Over Design Usage: Purchasing an exclusive design gives the brand complete control over how and where the design is used. This control extends to various aspects, such as the types of garments, colour variations, and marketing strategies, ensuring that the design aligns perfectly with the brand’s vision and marketing plans.

5. Avoiding Legal and Licensing Complexities

Simplified Legal Agreements: Exclusive purchases eliminate the need for ongoing licensing agreements, which can be complex and require continuous management. Licensing deals often come with stipulations, such as duration, geographical limitations, and specific usage rights, which can complicate the brand’s operations and strategic planning.

6. Brand Loyalty and Consumer Trust

Building Consumer Trust: When consumers know that a brand offers exclusive designs, it can build trust and loyalty. Customers may be more inclined to purchase from a brand they know offers unique and exclusive items, believing they are getting something special and not available elsewhere.

7. Creative Freedom

Encouraging Creativity and Innovation: By purchasing exclusive designs, brands encourage designers to innovate and create unique patterns tailored to their specific needs and aesthetics. This creative freedom can lead to more innovative and trend-setting designs, keeping the brand at the forefront of fashion trends.


In the fashion design industry, exclusivity is a powerful tool. It enhances brand identity, ensures market differentiation, and adds to the perceived value and prestige of products. By purchasing exclusive print designs, brands maintain control, avoid licensing complexities, and foster consumer trust and loyalty. This strategic choice ultimately supports the brand's long-term success and market positioning in a competitive industry.

Final Thoughts

Even though I specialise in exclusive buyouts in the fashion space, I do offer non-exclusive licensing options to those who prefer to keep costs low (and don't mind other brands using the same design).

If you have any questions about my Print Library or are not sure which option is best for you, send me a quick message and I'd be happy to answer any questions about licensing!

As a reminder, all my designs are password-protected. To view my Print Library, register here to access it.




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