Guess what’s a hot new niche field in fashion? Nope, it’s not socialite handbag designers. With the increasing amount of copyright law infringement, private equity takeovers, and general industry infighting, fashion is facing a dearth of lawyers specializing in luxury law.
No need to fret; young lawyers are taking up the mantle. What’s most interesting about the growing field is that the work seems equally focused within the world of luxury as it is on protecting intellectual property rights against fast fashion copying and straight knock-offs. The ongoing Yves Saint Laurent-Christian Louboutin battle over red soles might be stealing all the headlines, but let’s not forget eight other major designer in-fights of recent years. Those scuffles had nothing to do with, say, Forever 21.
And as the court battles go on, this particular field of law is growing on both sides of the equation. Business schools are adding luxury law courses, while design schools are bringing in pro-bono lawyers to discuss fashion law with students. Fordham University founded the Fashion Law Institute in 2006, the first such institution of its kind. What does this all mean for intellectual property rights in the industry? With the uptick in lawyers working on every angle, and the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act making its way toward Congress, it’s possible we could see a major legal crackdown on fakes, copies, and blatant imitations in the near future.