Written by: Kiana Marques-Nicholson
The creative space of fashion is one of the fastest-growing areas in the world. The ability to create and express oneself through the medium of clothing and design is sacred. Our ideas are a byproduct of us, so when we are protected by the law, in tandem are our ideas. Now you can’t arrest a pair of jeans for “unartful proportions” but you can arrest an individual who aims to copy said proportions for personal gain. That is why fashion and the law go hand in hand.
To start off, what is Fashion Law? The “big girl” term would be intellectual property law. To put that in perspective, it protects a creator’s products and ideas. While this subset of law applies to all areas in a creative space, such as music and aviation, but also the logos we wear on shirts and the patterns on our underwear.
Why is it important? No one likes a copycat. I think when Drake said “Imitation isn’t a form of flattery, it’s just annoying me” he was speaking directly to artists. This is especially true for small fashion brands and businesses in relation to large corporations mimicking their all-to-unique ideas. IP law is so important, especially in the name of fast fashion. Every day it seems a small creator is speaking out on seeing their designs plastered across websites, claiming their authenticity. From Zara to Shein, the list could go on for pages of not only the copied but also the copiers at fault.
In more recent years, IP laws have been on the rise, not only in North America, but in Europe as well Just as most fashion trends that are coveted here in the US, they had their time in across the Atlantic. Starting in Paris in the 1880’s when designers refused to travel, in fear of their ideas being stolen. Thus, the birth of Industrial properties. It made its way through Europe, with the first IP filing service being in Madrid.
Now you might be asking, “What does this mean for me?” or “ Why is this relevant?”, well, I hope to answer those questions for you. No matter your art form, you should be able to create with peace of mind knowing your ideas are secure. Now more than ever we turn a blind eye to “Amazon Dupes” and the infamous TJ Maxx alternatives. It is hard to recognize the morality of it all, recognizing that is way above my pay grade. As are as relevancy, it will come with time. Every year thousands of cases are brought to trial, some even reaching the hands of the Supreme Court. The rulings of these cases pave the way for artisans and their approach to their works.
We all have ideas, therefore it’s important we stay informed on how to protect them. Remember, what’s mine is mine so hands off!