Fashion Forward: Lessons in Law and Business for Fashion Entrepreneurs

The Second Annual Fashion Law Symposium was hosted by The Fashion Law Society and The John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship. The symposium examined what happens after the fashion has been created.
One of the panelists Jeffery Levinson pointed out that the creative side of Fashion happens in a flash, however the entire process is much longer than just creating the piece. Everything after that initial creation heavily involves both business and law. One of the biggest surprises to me was the intersection of law and perfume. Alfred R. Paliani of Perfumania explained that some states require the perfume companies to justify the size of their box. If a box is much larger than the bottle of perfume it can be misleading to a customer, this is why we often see the outlines of the perfume bottle on the box.

Often times, creative and marketing teams clash with the legal side. Lori Kinkade of David’s Bridal spoke about the difficulties of advertising within the law. For example an ad for wedding dresses costing $500 cannot have a picture of a $2000 dress on it. Her job is to make sure that the fine print matches the large advertised print. Another issue that Lori and Alfred touched upon was the effects of social media. Alfred explained that often times it is better to let a disgruntled employee complain online, because an effort to shut it down looks bad for the company. Lori spoke about what David’s Bridal called “Tattoo-gate.” A bride was looking for a dress to showcase her tattoos while her mother kept secretly telling the sales associate to pick out ones that hid the tattoos. Conflicted, the sales associate kept showing the bride dresses that hid the tattoos. The next day a Facebook campaign emerged in which the bride called out David’s Bridal for not supporting brides with tattoos. Thousands of people joined in the campaign stating that they would not shop at David’s Bridal. The company had to reach out to the bride’s mother and ask her to come clean about what happened. The bride eventually apologized but this demonstrated how quickly social media can effect a company’s image.

Neely and Chloe Burch are about to launch a handbag and shoe line targeted at young women who want basic accessories that are high quality but not overpriced. While they are not the actual designers they help create the brand and what it stands for. Their main goal is to bring high quality products that complement the owner and can be adjusted to exactly what she needs. Customers will be able to customize the bag in store. The fact that Neely and Chloe are not designers, but rather consumers who saw a gap in the market demonstrates that business, law, and fashion not only intersect, but also coexist. Overall, the event gave great insight into how the design process and the law processes coexist and must sometimes meet in the middle to help designers get their creations to the consumers that they created them for.