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Fashion: It is a business.

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.

Dressmaker dummies / mannequines / modelsWithin that broad mandate, we all bring our personal points of view, as future posts on these pages will surely reveal.  And here are a few of mine:

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

General / Musings

Why We Are Here

The members of the Fashion Practice of Phillips Nizer
are all here for one very good reason:

We love fashion.

Some of us may have entered the field from working with those on the design side and others from representing participants on the business end of fashion.  Because the law and the business are always evolving, we are all busy staying on top of what is happening with both.  At times, we may not agree even with each other on what the law provides on a particular point or what the law should provide.  In our personal lives, some in our practice group may gravitate toward casual dress, others may prefer more formality.  And some may prefer checks and others stripes.  But no matter.  We are all here, working every day to assist our clients at all levels of the fashion trade.

We are aware that certain other areas of the law may be seen by some as possibly having greater social weight such as (just perhaps) defending the Bill of Rights or trying capital offenses.  But we submit that no one in any other area of law will see so many plot twists while rendering services or have such an interesting experience in doing so.

Fashion, after all, affects everybody.  You simply cannot avoid it.  Even someone who claims to have no use for fashion, who deliberately dresses down and snubs every trend and fad is making a fashion choice by doing just that.  What other area of the law so fully combines the law of art, design, licensing, leasing, employment, franchising, lending, music, personal rights, privacy and publicity, electronic facilities and so much more?  And as for being a venue for the full enjoyment of the human comedy—please, don’t get me started.  So feel free, in the coming weeks and months, to join us on these pages as we review and, on occasion, even attempt to understand and explain, the law, the business and the joy of fashion.

Credit:  Alan Behr