Fashion law is often overlooked, yet it should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, whether they’re a student, a graduate or a seasoned professional. On day two at the Frederica Boateng, of Fashion Business Education moderated a fascinating panel called Fashion Law, Know Your Rights talk at the GFW Live! Talk Space, with panelists from across the fashion industry on hand to explain the best way to protect yourself.

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Bruno Rodriguez, a lawyer at Cassidy Law, said for anyone in industry, knowing your intellectual property (IP) rights is the most important piece of knowledge that anyone in the fashion industry can have. Knowing the difference between your trademark and your copyright can be vital to protecting yourself incase your work is ever stolen or replicated.

One topic the whole panel was passionate about was internships. Knowing the difference between a valuable work experience and a company that is taking advantage of you is key. Patrick McDowell, a Fashion Designer, said one of the best pieces of advice he was ever given was; “If you feel like you’re not learning anything at an internship, then pick up your bag and leave.” The Fashion Cultivator’s CEO and founder Leah Hanrahan agreed, stressing “Don’t slog it out for a company that you’re not getting anything back from”.

Unpaid internships were a hot topic amongst the panelists, and one thing they can all agree on is that internships longer than 2-3 week should never be unpaid. Shiv Sensarma, Founder of Talent Tin, though that working for 6-months for a company for free is something that should be avoided at all costs, whereas getting 2 weeks of experience is worth an unpaid role if the skill you’ll gain is invaluable.

Money and negotiating contracts is something most people in the industry shy away from discussing, but Hanrahan said it’s one of the most important things anyone can do, no matter what stage you’re at with your career. Initiating the conversation can be tough, but ultimately the person you’re negotiating with will respect you for it. According to Hanrahan, the main thing is to believe in yourself - you’re negotiating because you want something good to come from it, so believe in what you’re asking for.

Words by Faith Richardson

Photography by Becky Mukerji