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Legal Experts Weigh Future of ‘Made In’ Clothing Labels


That “Made In” label inside your dress or jacket is about to go high-tech, according to experts in fashion trends.

Joseph Ferrara
photos by Henry Dziekan, III

Speaking on April 15 at the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham’s first annual symposium, panelists predicted that future clothing labels will be QR codes that consumers can read by swiping their cell phones over a barcode. Such technology, they said, will add deeper dimensions to the marketing of apparel.

“The country of origin will just not be enough,” said Joseph Ferrara, director of the Garment Center Supplier Association. “We are going to see the entire life of the garment right there in the consumer’s hand in an explosion of prepositions: it won’t just be made in [the country], it will be made by fair trade, highly skilled workers, made of organic material, or even ‘made of fine animal hair groomed at an altitude of 8,000 feet.’ You are really going to get an incredible level of detail.

“Therein lies the opportunity,” he added.

Today’s activist consumers, Ferrara said, are accustomed to seeking out and finding information through social media and the Web. New niche markets in apparel will develop around fair trade, green materials, artisan-crafted garments, and even locales such as New York City, Palermo and others.

“Such awareness is going to be extraordinary and meaningful for the masses,” he said, “and for marketing.”

Ferrara was one of four experts on a panel,“Spinning the Globe: The Future of the ‘Made In’ Label.” The other speakers were Guillermo Jimenez, professor of law at the Fashion Institute of Technology and an expert in international trade; Mary O’Rourke, director of a consulting firm in textiles, O’Rourke Group Partners; and Sabina Lepre Leva, in-house counsel for the Intellectual Property Rights Desk-New York, Italian Trade Commission.

Susan Scafidi

The panelists said that localities such as New York, Italy and France—all famous for their fashion designers and excellent craftsmanship—must be preserved to facilitate the next wave of creative designers.

“Some of these struggling designers are going to be the Ralph Laurens of tomorrow,” O’Rourke said.

The symposium grew out of last year’s establishment of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law, which opened in September. Other panels included “Shopping for Fashion Houses: Who’s First in Line in the M&A Market?” “Is Grey the New Black? Parallel Imports and Counterfeits I the Online Marketplace,” and “Eco-Chic: Is it Easy Being Green?”

“The theme of the conference, ‘Global Growth and Legal Landscapes,’ is about the growth of the fashion industry itself, but it is also about the growth of fashion law, which has moved from being perceived as largely intellectual property into many, many other fields of law,” said Susan Scafidi, professor of law and academic director of the Institute.

On display in the Law School atrium was apparel with the Zero Maria Cornejo label, owned by Chilean fashion designer Maria Cornejo.


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