Last week, I posted the Five reasons the Fashion Industry is slow to adapt within the online space. In the next few posts I would like to further explore each of these five subjects, and today would like to discuss reason #1: Copyright Infringement.

Disclosure: I consider myself belonging to Generation YZ (ironically it also happens to be my initials:). I was born with Generation Y, but somehow my online social behavior is more appropriate for Generation Z. I’m connected to the web at least16 hours a day, Twitter about every episode of my life, share my daily outfit photos on my blog and even make ridiculous videos on Blip.tv. Therefore, the subject of online privacy might be a bit vague for someone who is naturally used to online exposure. Exposing your brand online, however, isn’t much different.

This is probably why it’s difficult for me to understand designers who, out of fear of design or idea theft, choose to protect their online collections with passwords, include only low resolution photos online or refer shoppers to their physical store or a showroom for purchase.

What these designers don’t realize is that in the process, they are not only protecting themselves from copycats, but also in many cases lose customers. I would like to give designers a few reasons to forgo the fear and build their fashion empire online:

1. Scale. Let’s try to imagine which audience is bigger – the online design thieves or the tech savvy fashionistas who embrace online shopping? I think the answer is pretty clear here.

2. Reach. I believe copycats who base their business on stealing designs will find a way to get a sample of your collection, even if from a local store. On the other hand, a consumer who happens to live in a place like Zanesville, Ohio might never be able to buy your clothes other than online.

3. Business Opportunities. Learn from the music industry about alternative ways to monetize your brand other than purely selling a product. Think about licensing, capsule collections and other retail collaborations to expand your brand name.

4. Instant Start. While you might wait five years to get an appointment with a Nordstrom buyer, setting up a personal store on Yahoo might take you five minutes.

5. Direct Feedback. By translating your brand into the web, you allow for the opportunity to receive instant and direct feedback from your customers. While you might never know why your high-end collection was marked down at Nordstrom only after a week, you will always get costumer feedback directly to your email.

I hope these few thoughts will convince some of you, who still operate in “stealth mode” to open your minds and dive into the online world. While diving, please don’t forget to notice beautiful reefs and exotic fish in this shark-filled “web ocean”.