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This article is written by Mahak Agarwal from the Institute of Law, Nirma University. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the various ways in which a fashion lawyer can earn money. 


“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the water, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening” -The Fashion Law Institute. 

Do you have a knack for fashion and pursuing law? Would like to read vogue in style and have that count towards billable hours? Perhaps you should consider being a fashion lawyer. Fashion law, also known as apparel law, is an evolving legal discipline that covers creation to brand security issues concerning the life of a garment. Clients in the fashion law include designers, fashion houses, manufacturers, suppliers, modeling agencies, retailers, and photographers. In this article, the author will discuss the ways in which a fashion lawyer can earn money and a guide to becoming a successful fashion lawyer.  

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Fashion laws in India

The Fashion Foundation of India, a newly established body composed of India’s leading designers, seeks protection from piracy and systematic copying of intellectual property rights. The intellectual property regime in India provides for protection under the Design Act 2000, the Copyright Act 1957, and the Geographical Indications of Goods Act 1999. Thus, three separate legislation appears to be regulating the fashion apparel and design regime. The works of art in the concept sketches are protected under the 1957 Copyright Act. The Design Act 2000 covers the non-functional component of the visually appearing entity, which involves the characteristics of the design of the form, pattern, line composition, and color pattern. The third schedule of the Design Rules, 2001 includes an exhaustive list of items and articles for which the controller may request an application. This design right shall remain in effect for a term of ten years, extendable for a total duration of 15 years to the other conditions.

Ways to become a successful fashion lawyer

There is no sure way to become a fashion lawyer, but it would definitely help to select the right education, make connections in the industry, and get work experience in the fashion industry. Some of the ways that might help one become a successful fashion lawyer are:

  • The field of fashion law as an emerging area of practice is complex and unique. It covers many large areas of law, but is solely focused on a specific segment of society. A very few law schools actually offer fashion law courses and electives and most fashion lawyers are busy building their practices, not teaching courses. If you know that before you start law school you want to become a fashion lawyer, it would be a good idea to look into schools that offer fashion law classes or help fashion law centers gain experience in the field, while at school.
  • Learn to write clearly and speak even more clearly. Do not write and talk in difficult legal language, unless you’re working with another lawyer. If your clients understand the words that come out of your mouth or on the papers you send them, they can’t take your advice. The art of communication takes on complex ideas and introduces them in an accessible way to the audience. 
  • Look for jobs in the fashion design market, whenever possible. Experience working in fashion, even if it isn’t strictly legal, may reinforce an application to later become a fashion lawyer. Also, fashion experience is likely to provide insights into the many facets of the design industry, which can help make a design-centered legal career even better.
  • It is very important for a good fashion lawyer to have expert knowledge of fashion because fashion is not just about knowing how to hold a clothing, a fashion lawyer is expected to know the A to Z relevant to a clothing brand, from the beginning of its concept to its launch in the industry or market. “A good fashion lawyer must be able to talk about fashion but still walk the walk on any nuanced issues that arise,” says Simon Bennett, Fox Williams LLP’s fashion partner. The lawyer needs to have legal expertise and a strong interest in this field to make the most ‘cost-effective’ decisions for their client.
  • Your customers are creative; they express their imagination by thinking out of the box. Creativity is a conscious act that calls for time and effort. Write, ride, meditate, take long showers, whatever stirs up your imagination so that you can provide legally sound and creative advice when necessary. Fashion is an industry that is continually evolving; don’t get caught in ruts or old school mindset. Don’t forget to read and watch what your clients are, so that you can identify the issues and patterns. Lastly, be a competent lawyer. Learn how to communicate with people, and handle them well. Learn how to be an effective negotiator.

Ways to earn money being a fashion lawyer

Fashion attorneys have work related to several things on everything from intellectual property – marks, trademarks, designs, and copyright – to arbitration, labor law, and distribution arbitration. Some shops and brands have in-house departments of their own, some outsource to law firms. Some of the ways in which a fashion lawyer can earn money are:

Law firms 

Fashion law governs the relationship between fashion designers, retailers, and consumers, having them loyal to each other so that they can function within the framework of the legally binding agreements that occur as a result of their contractual obligations. It also provides for the protection and possession of designs produced or used by fashion houses, manufacturers, photographers and for the legal specifications for industrial events, such as fashion shows. 

Given the growing demand for transactional, contractual, and legal services, a rising number of law firms and consulting firms are concentrating on fashion law. More priority is given to people with experience in this field.

Fashion houses 

Fashion lawyers are particularly important as in-house counsels given the unique nature of this business sector that requires multidisciplinary specialist legal practitioners and an awareness of complex legal issues at the national, transnational, and international levels. Fashion designers are seeking advice in defending their designs in clothes, accessories such as trademarks, copyrights, and are also seeking support in patenting their work.

Textile, jewellery and hi-tech industries

The launch of fashion goods requires several steps and a wide range of activities frequently carried out by numerous suppliers and partners which may include complex contract agreements, shared responsibility for transport and distribution, copyright security, and patent rights.

Work independently

A fashion lawyer can also work independently and establish his/her own firm. The various clients of a fashion lawyer include: fashion designers, shoe designers, models, manufacturers, jewellery designers, textile designers, retail stores, and fashion labels. Though, it is often recommended to work as an associate initially to develop contacts and gain some experience before starting an independent business as a fashion lawyer.  

Some famous fashion lawyers

Julie Zerbo

Julie Zerbo is The Fashion Law’s founder and editor-in-chief. With formal legal education and a broad background in law and economics, as well as a dynamic understanding of the ever-evolving fashion business and consumer culture in general, she has been cited by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New Yorker, the Economist, and Vogue as one of the leading voices in legal journalism in the global fashion industry.

The Fashion Law is a modern media site providing unparalleled insight and access to the legal and business aspects of the rapidly evolving fashion industry. Known for shaping legal discussions in and beyond the fashion, TFL is a trusted daily source for an engaged audience of globally-minded and forward-thinking lawyers, business executives, retail insiders, and other key thinkers.

Anthony V Lupo

Recognized as Forbes’ ‘Father of Fashion Law’, Anthony Lupo represents brands such as DVF, YSL, Valentino, Lacoste, Diesel, Jimmy Choo, Tesla, and Discovery and/or serves on the boards. Anthony focuses primarily on entertainment, fashion, and technology. The diverse client base includes:

Fashion industry

  • Diane von Furstenberg
  • Yves Saint Laurent
  • Valentino
  • Fila
  • Lacoste 
  • Diesel
  • Jimmy Choo

Entertainment industry 

  • Discovery Channel 
  • Pixar 
  • Oprah Winfrey Network

Technology sector 

  • Tesla
  • PlayStation 
  • LG

Anthony often acts as their US general counsel for clients in the fashion and retail industries. Anthony’s research is focused on intellectual property and advertisement for businesses in the entertainment and technology industry. He also serves as a member of the executive board of the company, co-chairs the practice of intellectual property and chairs the Fashion, Luxury Goods & Retail group.


There are plenty of pros to operate in such a distinctive field of specialization. Fashion law gives a backstage pass to a star-studded, glamourous world. There are opportunities to attend glitzy, trendy parties; wear the latest in designer fashions; and hobnob with all the beautiful individuals. A successful fashion attorney will make good money — with “make” emphasis; the disadvantages of this style of job include piles of paperwork, long hours, and high stress. There may also be a disagreement on either a domestic or a foreign front; thus a willingness to fly is a must.

Nowadays, fashion law is gaining popularity, as there are many instances of piracy in design as a result of which pirated goods can be seen in the worldwide market. Copied dresses and accessories from famous designers like Elie Saab, Sabyasachi, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, for example, are few that can often be seen in the market at a very low price. The 2019 year also saw few examples of copied items worn by Bollywood celebrities. Shweta Nanda, daughter of the famous Bollywood celebrity Mr. Amitabh Bhachan has recently launched her own fashion line, and one of her clothing designs was an exact copy of a T-shirt sold by the TL Room brand. In October, 2019, a Diane Von Furstenberg fall 2011 frock captured Michelle Obama in an ASOS knockoff. 

With the growing incidence of these cases, fashion law has become important in the field of clothing, apparel, accessories, and much more in order to protect the design legally and provide correct advice in the case in question. The industry of fashion law is a newly emerging law arena with ample opportunities for law students and lawyers interested in the area. For lawyers to venture into the fashion world and put their legal experience to the table is a fresh environment for them.




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