Fashion: It is a business.Posted: May 19, 2014
In business law, whatever the business might be, commercial considerations come first. An airtight contract or brilliantly argued appeal means nothing if it showcases the lawyer’s prowess but fails to deliver on the client’s business objectives. For anyone practicing fashion law, the first rule, after knowing the law, is to know fashion and the fashion business.
Our Fashion Practice Group represents designers, manufacturers, brands and retailers. That translates roughly into hope, expectation and reality. Design has every right to be seen as one of the applied arts; as with all the arts, practitioners must be mindful of the marketplace but not be a slave to market expectations. Overall, I see designers as optimists by nature; they are energized by hope even as they labor to fulfill our dreams.
In representing designers, we borrow methods from our art law and general business practices, working to defend originality in design with the legal tools of copyright, trade dress and design patent protections. In contracts, we help designers in their relationships with the makers of the fashions they conceive and in the protection of their names as brands.
For a manufacturer or brand owner, the designer’s work has transformed into expectation–of sales, market share and ultimately of brand enhancement. Here is where we devote much of our work to trademark protection, contracts with suppliers ranging from manufacturing sources to advertising agencies, to factoring deals, and contracts with retailers.
What is retail if not a bucket of true reality for every fashion design ever to make its way to the judge and jury of all fashions—the eye and wallet of the consumer? To make that a successful encounter, we help with store leases; the employment of sales staff and others; stop-in-shop deals; and, of such increasing importance, website development and maintenance, and social media utilization. However inspired the vision, however brilliant the execution, and however clever the marketing and display, if the customer does not buy it, what you have on the racks are rags, not riches. The job of the fashion lawyer is to do what he or she can to bring each fashion fairytale to a close in the way that all fairytales should—with a happy ending.
Credit: Alan Behr