The article 'Guide to Career in Fashion Law' aims to briefly encompass how fashion law has opened up various opportunities and the reason behind its evolution.

The article 'Guide to Career in Fashion Law' by R Shakthivel aims to briefly encompass how fashion law has opened up various opportunities along with the reason behind its evolution.

Fashion law is one field of law that has evolved and developed significantly over the years despite not being popular. Fashion law is a broad term that covers several legal issues such as contract law, arbitration, labour law, intellectual property law, etc. It's about privacy, consumer preferences and unrestrained consumption. The word "fashion" evolved in the contemporary fast society with the progress of technology. This became the generally accepted standard for identifying individuals by their style of dress, extending to the quality of "marks".

Velvet Paper rightly said,

“Fashion is an art and you are the canvas.”

The fashion of the 21st century is not only limited to clothing but also extends to nanotechnology, e-commerce, personalized clothing, innovative fabrics, and wearable technologies such as smart watches, Fitbit, smart clothes, etc.


Fashion is one of the factors of social and interpersonal relations because it stimulates and influences cultural understanding. Hence, it is essential to ensure that it is regulated through appropriate guidelines and measures. Despite its drastic advancement, clients in the fashion industry face numerous legal and business challenges that can severely impact even the best-run organizations. Important work includes securing intellectual property rights and brand equity for designers, fashion houses, distributors, manufacturers, modelling agencies, retailers and photographers. India's intellectual property laws, including the Copyright Act, of 1957 and the Designs Act, of 2000, include statutory mechanisms to protect fashion law clients.

Rights and Responsibilities of a Fashion Lawyer

Fashion lawyers provide valuable advice to their clients on legal matters including the fashion, luxury, footwear, textile, apparel, jewellery and cosmetics industries. They guide in areas such as licensing, distribution, franchising, intellectual property rights; and matters related to employment. These include safety, sustainability and consumer protection issues. Various aspects of corporate, financial, real estate, tax and commercial law also come into the picture.

Fashion lawyers perform a wide variety of tasks, from establishing and cancelling business entities, and advising on brand development and protection, to drafting and negotiating contracts, arbitration and litigation in trademark, copyright and other intellectual property matters.

Educational Opportunities

There are very limited fashion law courses around the world, and not many colleges have started this course yet. Currently, New York's Fordham University is the only fashion law institute, founded in late 2010 with the support of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Diane von Furstenberg, that launched a fashion law program in its curriculum. The Institute offers J.D. and LLM students the opportunity to explore legal issues related to fashion. The Fashion Law Institute also offers pro bono legal advice to designers who need it. Special courses include topics such as fashion law, fashion finance and ethics, sustainability and development, and fashion law and fashion law. The institute offers a public seminar series for design and legal professionals and a summer intensive open to graduate and undergraduate students.

The Fashion Foundation of India is a newly established body comprising India's leading designers. These designers receive protection against copying and piracy of intellectual property. In India, it is protected by three different laws namely Copyright Act 1957, Geographical Indications Act 1999 and Designs Act 2000.

The University of Milan offers students a month-long fashion law course every July. The course curriculum offers a wide range of topics in a fashion law course that includes intellectual property rights, finance, corporate structures, manufacturing, marketing, retail, ethics and sustainability and economic development, international trade and modelling law. There are also universities in the UK that do not offer fashion law as a separate course but have an intellectual property subject that focuses on fashion law.

Reason for the growth of Fashion Law

Today, fashion law is gaining momentum because there are many cases of design piracy, as a result of which pirated products can be seen on the market all over the world. For example, replica dresses and accessories from famous designers like Elle Saab, Sabyasachi, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, and Jimmy Choo are rare in the market at very cheap prices. 2019 also saw Bollywood celebrities wearing some replica products. Recently, Shweta Nanda, daughter of famous Bollywood personality Mr Amitabh Bachan, launched her fashion line and one of her clothing designs was a replica of a T-shirt sold by the brand TL Room.

In October 2019, Michelle Obama was snapped wearing a Diane Von Furstenberg Fall 2011 dress at ASOS. Due to the increase of such cases, fashion law has become important in textiles, footwear, accessories and many other fields to legally protect the design and provide relevant advice.

If you are interested in combining your passion for fashion and law, a career in fashion law may be a perfect fit for you. Here is a guide to help you get started:

  1. Gain a solid foundation in law: To become a fashion lawyer, you must first obtain a law degree. Law schools offer various courses that are relevant to the fashion industry, such as intellectual property law, contract law, and international trade law.
  2. Gain relevant work experience: Consider working as a law clerk or intern in a law firm that specializes in fashion law. This will give you hands-on experience and exposure to the field.
  3. Build a network: Attend industry events and conferences to meet professionals in the fashion and legal industries. Networking is critical to building relationships and landing job opportunities.
  4. Develop expertise in the fashion industry: Stay up-to-date with the latest trends, brands, and legal issues related to the fashion industry. Subscribe to industry publications and attend fashion shows.
  5. Consider specializing in a particular area:
    The fashion industry is vast, and there are many areas of specialization. Consider focusing on a specific area of fashion law, such as intellectual property or labour and employment.
  6. Be prepared to work hard: The fashion industry is fast-paced and demanding, and a career in fashion law requires hard work, dedication, and long hours.
  7. Be adaptable: The fashion industry is constantly changing, and fashion lawyers need to be adaptable and able to handle new challenges as they arise.
  8. Develop strong communication skills: Fashion lawyers work with clients, designers, and other professionals in the fashion industry. Strong communication skills are critical to effectively advocating for clients and negotiating deals.
  9. Consider joining professional organizations: Joining professional organizations, such as the Fashion Law Institute or the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, can provide you with resources and networking opportunities.
  10. Stay ethical: As a fashion lawyer, you have a responsibility to uphold ethical standards and protect the interests of your clients.

With these tips in mind, you can start your journey towards a rewarding career in fashion law.

Career opportunities

After completing a full-time JD or LLM course or fashion law degree, you can apply for jobs in various fields as mentioned below:

  • Law Firms

An increasing number of law firms and consultancies are focusing on fashion law, due to the growing demand for transactional, contractual and litigation services. People with more experience in this field are preferred.

  • Fashion Houses

Fashion lawyers are especially valuable as in-house counsel due to the nature of this business, which requires legal professionals with multidisciplinary experts who understand complex legal issues at the national, international and international levels. Fashion designers seek consultation on copyright protection of clothing, and accessories, such as trademarks, and also seek assistance in patenting their work.

  • Textile, Jewellery and High-Tech Sectors

Bringing fashion products to market involves multiple stages and a wide range of activities, often performed by different suppliers and partners, which can include complex contract negotiations, shared responsibility for transport and distribution, copyright protection and patent rights. The fashion legal industry is an emerging legal arena with many opportunities for law students and attorneys interested in the field. This is a fresh arena where lawyers are entering the fashion world and bringing their legal expertise to the table.

Contributions from: R Shakthivel And Apurva Neel


[1] Fashion and intellectual property laws in India, Available Here

[2] Becoming a fashion lawyer: A promising career option in the coming decade, Available Here

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

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R Shakthivel

R Shakthivel

Institution: Presidency University, Bangalore. My area of interest includes M and A, General Corporate, Legal research and content writing.

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