CFDA backs first fashion law center

Susan Scafidi in Lady Lux, August 24, 2010

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Susan Scafidi first got recognition in the fashion world in 2006, when she offered a class in Fashion Law in her Fordham law class. Now, four years later, the law professor is adding another pioneering act to her resume as one of the founders of the first Fashion Law Institute in the world.

Diane Von Furstenburg and the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) are funding and advising the fashion law center, which is set to start classes on September 8. Susan Scafidi will act as director of the institute’s programs. Besides CFDA, the institute will also be overseen by an advisory board that consists of fashion industry veterans and the bar.

Fordham’s Web site reads, “The Institute will provide legal services for design students and designers, train the fashion lawyers and designers of the future, and offer information and assistance on issues facing the fashion industry.”

Coincidently the law school is only a stone’s throw from Manhattan’s Garment District, which will allow students to pursue opportunities outside of the classroom, to help with their understanding of the discipline. Fashion Law is a unique discipline encompassing everything from intellectual property, business and finance as well as trade, regulation, civil rights and consumer culture. Students that go on to practice could likely handle copyright suits or make sure a manufacturer is adhering to factory workers’ rights.

Although the discipline is new, Fashion Law has always existed and Scafidi is a prime example. Her knowledge of fashion law in areas such as intellectual property and cultural property has led her to testify as an expert in Congress regarding extended legal protection to fashion designers.

When Scafidi isn’t teaching, testifying or establishing herself as the inventor of a brand-new field, she might be found blogging on her Web site, Counterfeit Chic. Scafidi, an avid pop culture junkie and author of the book “Who Owns Culture?”, points out legal issues facing the fashion industry in her blog. For example, shortly after Chelsea Clinton tied the knot, Scafidi wrote about all the counterfeit Vera Wang gowns hitting the market. She lets her readers know that, unfortunately, knock-offs are legal.

For more information about the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, visit their Web site at http://law.fordham.edu.