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On a daily basis designers, with the help of lawyers, are protecting their designs and inspiration, through fashion law – a legal field encompassing issues that arise throughout the life of an article of clothing or fashion accessory.
Essentially, this covers intellectual property; business and finance, with subcategories ranging from employment to real estate; international trade and government regulation, including questions of safety and sustainability; consumer culture; privacy and wearable tech; and civil rights.
It also includes related areas such as textile production, modeling, media, and the cosmetics and perfume industries.
Lawyers in this arena work on anything from intellectual property – trademarks, brands, designs and copyright – to contracts, employment law and distribution agreements. Some shops and labels have their own in-house teams, while others outsource to legal firms.
A good lawyer truly understands the client’s needs and keeps abreast of changes in the sector.
Fashion law doesn’t differ from any other area of commercial law in that respect. If you know what issues and challenges the industry is facing, you will be able to respond a lot better to client needs.
However, you need both legal knowledge and an interest in the industry to make the most cost effective decisions on behalf of clients.
It also helps if you understand retail and how the fashion industry works – but an obsession with clothes is optional.
My expertise is in contracts and commercial matters, so I have my head buried in contracts and leases most of the time. I probably wouldn’t notice whether my colleagues were wearing Louboutins or Crocs.