I get asked this question a lot, especially since I quit my job at a law firm to go back to school and get a masters in fashion law. What is fashion law? Think about a designer who wants to make a dress. She's created the sketches for an amazing piece, but has no idea what to do now. Where will the fabric come from? Does she need a manufacturer to assemble the dress and produce a certain quantity? If so, should we find a manufacturer overseas? What about tariffs? How will she market her design to the public? Should she spend a lot of money on advertising or utilize a social media influencer to show off her product? How will she ensure that fast-fashion companies won't steal her ideas or designs, to the extent they can be protected?
These are just a few of the issues that fashion lawyers need to be prepared to answer and advise on. Everything from protecting intellectual property assets, including trademarks, copyrights, and even patents, to negotiating manufacturing agreements and ensuring a product complies with labeling and even safety regulations. Using social media influencers as a form of marketing? There are regulations you need know before doing that as well. Essentially, fashion law is the conglomeration of many different areas of law (intellectual property, employment law, licensing, contracts, international trade, etc.) that are relevant and important to designers, retailers, and consumers. To be a successful fashion lawyer, you need to be fluent in many different areas of the law; a "jackie" of all trades, if you will.
Despite the fact that fashion is a trillion dollar industry in our country, fashion law carries with it a somewhat trifling connotation, even before inquiring into what fashion law entails. That being said, I graduate from Fordham Law School in May 2018 with an LL.M. in Fashion Law and I hope to do my part in helping it become a recognized and necessary practice area in the legal field.