July 24, 2024

Apparel Creations Workshop

Crafting Fashion Trends

Exploring the intersection between fashion and law

3 min read

For emerging practitioners, venturing into fashion law is not just a career choice but also a compelling opportunity to blend creativity with legal acumen, writes Mariah Saad.

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As a trademark and intellectual property lawyer, with a passion for fashion, my recent experience at a fashion law bootcamp in New York was nothing short of transformative.

This intensive program, led by Professor Susan Scafidi, the pioneering figure in the field of fashion law, delved deep into the complex and fascinating world where haute couture meets legal precedent.

The bootcamp offered invaluable opportunities to engage with legal counsel from iconic fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. These interactions provided firsthand perspectives on the strategic legal challenges faced by global fashion brands, from navigating international trademark disputes to protecting designs in the digital age. We also had the opportunity to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the Sleeping Beauties exhibition and meet the legal counsel behind the Met Gala. These discussions underscored the critical role that intellectual property law plays in safeguarding the creativity and innovation that define the fashion industry.

One of the standout activities during the bootcamp was attending Suffs on Broadway, a musical that celebrates the suffragettes and their fashion. This theatrical experience not only highlighted the profound cultural influence of fashion but also underscored the historical and legal narratives intertwined within it. From the elaborate costumes to the portrayal of societal norms through fashion, Suffs exemplified how law and fashion converge in both narrative and practice.

For emerging practitioners, venturing into fashion law is not just a career choice but also a compelling opportunity to blend creativity with legal acumen. Here’s why:

Why fashion law is a worthwhile venture for emerging practitioners

  1. Diverse practice areas: Fashion law encompasses a broad spectrum of legal disciplines, including intellectual property, contract law, employment law, and international trade. This diversity allows practitioners to develop a versatile skill set that is applicable across various sectors beyond fashion.
  2. Innovation and creativity: Few industries are as dynamic and trend-driven as fashion. Practitioners in this field have the chance to work with designers and brands that constantly push the boundaries of creativity, making every case a stimulating challenge.
  3. Global reach: Fashion is a global industry, and legal issues often transcend borders. This global reach offers practitioners the opportunity to work on international transactions and collaborate with legal teams around the world.
  4. Impactful work: Protecting the intellectual property and rights of designers and brands is not just about legalities; it’s about preserving and promoting artistic expression. The outcomes of fashion law cases can have far-reaching implications for the industry and beyond.

Advice for emerging practitioners

  1. Build a strong foundation: Start by mastering the fundamentals of intellectual property law, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Understanding these core principles will form the bedrock of your practice in fashion law.
  2. Stay current: Fashion trends evolve rapidly, and so do the legal challenges they bring. Stay abreast of industry developments, landmark cases, and emerging issues through industry publications, seminars, and continuing legal education.
  3. Network strategically: Establishing connections within the fashion industry and legal community is crucial. Attend conferences, join professional associations like the Fashion Law Institute, and seek mentorship from experienced practitioners.
  4. Develop commercial awareness: Fashion is not just about design; it’s also a business. Understand the commercial realities that shape legal decisions, such as marketing strategies, supply chain dynamics, and consumer behaviour.
  5. Embrace creativity: Fashion law requires innovative thinking and a willingness to approach legal problems from unconventional angles. Cultivate your creativity and adaptability to effectively counsel clients in this dynamic industry.

My experience at this fashion law bootcamp reaffirmed my belief in the immense potential of this specialised field. As both a lawyer and owner of an e-commerce loungewear business, I have seen firsthand how fashion law bridges the gap between legal theory and practical application.

For aspiring lawyers eager to combine their passion for fashion with a rewarding legal career, venturing into fashion law promises a journey filled with intellectual challenges, creative opportunities, and impactful contributions to one of the world’s most dynamic industries.

Mariah Saad is a lawyer at LegalVision and founder of loungewear fashion brand, LONELY IS MY HAPPY.


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