After coauthoring an extensive piece for the Stanford Law Review about why American fashion designers should have copyright protection against inexpensive knockoffs, something Euro pean designers have enjoyed for more than 25 years, Suk became a sought-after authority on the subject. Now Senator Charles Schumer of New York is drafting legislation that would give American fashion designers copyright protection and Suk is helping with the bill’s language.
“Books, music, film, and art are protected by copyright law,” Suk says one afternoon in her law school office. “But fashion is not. I wanted to question all of that. Lots of people take for granted that fashion is an area where creativity is involved, and they also overlook the fact that there is no protection for designers.”
The lack of a fashion copyright law here has given rise to an entire industry that reinterprets – fashionistas call it blatant pirating – high design on the cheap. A $2,000 cocktail dress is inexpensively copied and sold for $80 by Forever 21 or pricey Balenciaga shoes are replicated by Steve Madden for $60.
Reinterpreting is to the fashion world as sampling and mixing are to the music world.