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Fashion law is a legal field encompassing issues that arise throughout the life of an article of clothing or a fashion accessory. Fundamental issues in fashion law include intellectual property; business and finance, with subcategories ranging from employment and labor law to real estate; international trade and government regulation, including questions of safety and sustainability; dress codes and religious apparel; consumer culture; privacy and wearable tech; and civil rights. Fashion law also includes related areas such as textile production, modelling, media, and the cosmetics and perfume industries.
Fashion has been subject to legal regulation throughout history, from sumptuary laws that limit who can wear certain garments to trade restrictions and varying degrees of intellectual property protection. However, the conceptualization of fashion law as a distinct legal field is relatively recent.
A University of Geneva thesis was published on ‘’Le Droit International de la Mode’’ in 2000, which did not receive wide distribution.
In May 2004, a group of French lawyers led by Annabelle Gauberti published a supplement entitled "Droit du luxe"(which translates into either "law of luxury goods" or 'luxury law") in the prestigious French legal magazine Revue Lamy Droit des Affaires. This supplement explored various specific legal and tax issues at stake, in the fashion and luxury goods sectors, and was the second conceptualization ever of the interactions between the legal field and the fashion and luxury goods industries. Indeed, while Europeans prefer to refer to this sub-legal field as the law of luxury goods, Americans prefer to use the more 'democratic' term of "fashion law".
In 2006, Professor Susan Scafidi offered the first course in Fashion Law at Fordham Law School. Fashion Law courses were also developed and offered to designers at the Fashion Institute of Technology (by Guillermo Jimenez) and Parsons School of Design (by Deborah McNamara) at this time as well. In 2008 Susan Scafidi wrote that fashion law was only then starting to be recognized as a distinct area of law.
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