I have been an attorney for several years, I love my profession and I hope to practice it for the rest of my life.
I also love fashion. I wanted to be a fashion designer as a child, and the number of negotiated awards in a form of watching Fashion TV filled my parents with fear. From the first holiday colonies I brought “Vogue” magazine (and I forbade touching it so it wouldn’t crumble). I justified my passion with genes – as it turned out, my family tree dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. My ancestors, pioneers in geodesy and weaving, came from Holland; a few hundred years later they came to the Czech Republic and then to Poland.
For many years I drew under the supervision of a professor of painting, and when I see a journals drawing, my heart always beats stronger. I was supposed to be a designer, and I became a lawyer. I absolutely do not regret it, because the love for fashion has not passed, or even increased in strength.
At the first symposium of fashion law in New York (2014), I told my story to Professor Susan Scafidi – a pioneer in fashion law, who currently heads the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University in New York.
I also met Mimi Plange – an outstanding fashion designer, who tried to dispel legal concerns about design. Those women’s passion, enthusiasm and commitment made me think seriously about the industry and also publish my own articles on the subject.
This book cover is pink. Pink is my favorite color, perceived as extremely feminine, although a few hundred years ago it marked the social status of the European aristocracy regardless of gender.
A report by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which among others deals with the study of trends and features of inventions listed in US patents granted between 1976 and 2016, shows that the representation level of female sex in this matter is insufficient. This happens even though women implement apt ideas, such as patenting modern textiles.
Problems in the fashion industry arise regardless of the gender of people working in it, but I wanted the pink cover to attract the attention of women in particular. My observations show that some models started to fight for themselves: they change agencies, require, negotiate the terms of contracts. On the other hand, they do not fulfil their obligations towards agencies and clients.
The situation is different in case of stylists or fashion designers, who for fear of the lack of orders and bad reputation in the industry do not even address any appeals to stop violations (which in turn leads to the conviction of impunity for violators). Adepts in the industry must be aware of the applicable legal regulations, because the market in the era of social media can be greedy and brutal.
The Polish legal system does not even separate a section called “fashion law”; it was assumed that there is no such need. Equally often, professionals underestimate the fashion market.
This book is not an incentive to create new legislation – in my opinion, most issues are regulated by individual legal acts. Nor is it a commentary that will answer all the questions of the fashion industry. The purpose of my book is to inform the beginners in this area of important legal aspects and to draw attention to the fact that the lack of legal protection may cause irreversible consequences in terms of both financial and image.
An increase in legal awareness within the creative sector can only generate good results. The fashion industry is of great importance both in Poland and in the world. Fashion does not only have a functional function; fashion is millions of dollars and millions of jobs.
Oscar Wilde claimed that each of us dreams of a wardrobe exceeding the value of the budget we have at our disposal. However, we forget about the work and creativity of all those people who put these elements in the collection and make us desire them.
For three years now, one of the most interesting Polish fashion events has been held in Silesia – KTW Fashion Week. Last year’s edition focused on the dialogue between renowned designers, fashion experts and young talents. Young graduates had the opportunity to present their collections to a wide audience.
Fortunately, this is not the only event of this kind. Young people are speaking more and more boldly. All the time online shops are opened, which show not only new but also used luxury items on Instagram. The price of second-hand clothes – although still high – becomes affordable for those who could not afford to buy premium clothes directly in the boutique of a given brand. The popularity of used items is also confirmed by the fact that Zofia Chylak’s handbags in the secondhand online shops are even several hundred zlotys more expensive than the items offered by the designer.
It is estimated that by 2025 the value of the fashion market in Europe will amount to over 400 mid dollars. This shows how important this branch of the economy is, and thus how many legal problems may appear in it.
Fashion law covers many aspects – from problems related to counterfeiting, through licenses, sales, promotion, competition and cooperation of designers, to intellectual property and even immigration issues.
In every chapter of my book I draw attention to important issues related to fashion law: industrial property law, copyright law, fashion brand image, tax issues or cooperation with influencers.
There is no chapter on the history of fashion law in Poland, because this history has just begun. I do not discuss the history of Polish fashion either, because Aleksandra Żebrowska’s book entitled “Polskie piękno. Sto lat mody i stylu (Polish beauty. One hundred years of fashion and style)” completely exhausts this topic.
Ela Sokołowska, the proofreader of my book, said after reading it: You show that people cannot be helpless – and we are not helpless! That we have influence in every aspect and a choice. That you can fight for yourself in every area, even if others treat fashion as a sphere that sometimes cannot be defined or framed. The scarf or jacket released by Chanel was not just a scarf or jacket, but a testimony of the times. They reflected culture, social change and were a determinant of change – mainly in consciousness and thinking about women. Showing that it is possible to apply rules (and follow them) in such difficult areas as creativity and design is another step in the human development.
It sounds pathetic, but in my opinion it is a step that will translate into activities in other areas. And it will make others realize that it is not only a catwalk, not only a show, not only a model, but above all an effort, work, vision, desire to discover something new or present something in a different way.