Rules and Regulations

Fashion Plate of woman in morning dress circa 1825Over the course of history, law has been called upon to regulate fashion in a number of ways. Often this regulation pertains to issues of public health. Though we may not frequently think about it, clothing does have the potential to be toxic, a fact that was driven home in the late 1800s by the health problems that arose from the use of arsenic in certain dyes. This may have been an early and dramatic example of laws being used to protect people from the chemicals in their clothing, but it is by no means that only example. In this way, fashion can intersect with even health and safety legislation.

As a creative field, those working in the fashion world also look to the law to protect their work and livelihood. Intellectual property law has long struggled with how fashion and its related innovations fit into the realms of patent, trademark, and copyright law. Though many of these questions have not been definitively answered, this is a fascinating area of ongoing legal debate and another way in which the law intersects with fashion.