Deanna Clark Fashion Compliance Interview by Faith Bowman
The thing about fashion is that for most people, it conjures up images of
women throwing money away on whatever fancy thing comes along.
However? Fashion is actually a multi-layered business with a comprehensive
set of laws to protect designers, consumers, and the environment.
F.I.T adjunct professor and fashion compliance lawyer Deanna Clark is an
expert on how the law works and what needs to be done to enforce it. I met
her last year at a Fashion Group International event, and we bonded over
imported Italian sparkling wine and fashion. It was my pleasure to interview
her for Fashion Edits in honor of her upcoming event during NYFW.
Faith Bowman: What exactly is the Fashion Compliance group about? What
does it mean?
Deanna Clark: The term “Fashion Compliance”™ is adherence to the laws that
pertain to the apparel and textile products offered for sale, or sold within, the
U.S. and such laws that apply to the businesses engaged in such activity.
What we do in our Fashion Compliance™ practice at Schrier Shayne Koenig
Samberg & Ryne is to help designers or retail and import companies identify
which laws apply to their business operations and provide them with tools to
comply with the laws so that they can make smarter business decisions,
operate their business more efficiently, and of course, feel more confident that
they are doing what’s necessary to protect consumers. We also assist clients
with resolving problems they are currently encountering, whether as between
vendors or for violations that they are currently facing from a government
FB: How is fashion compliance important? Especially to consumers?
DC: Fashion Compliance is important for both sellers (retailers/importers) and
Whether they know it or not, apparel retailers, including E-tailers, are
operating in a highly regulated legal environment, the laws for which were
created to protect consumers.
Where laws are broken, lengthy investigations and penalties can result,
causing time consuming and undesired business disruptions.
From the consumer side, they want to know that they are wearing clothes and
carrying accessories that won’t harm them, whether it’s in regard to their
clothes catching on fire, or as commonly found with handbags and luggage,
with respect to a surface coatings for which a “Prop 65” or other warning label
Consumers also want to know that they are buying what is advertised as being
sold, so if a garment is marketed as being made of “Organic Cotton” or
“Bamboo,” for example, that the article does in fact derive from such plant or
FB: You’ve predicted that the ‘Made in America’ label will be gaining in
popularity in 2014. How will this happen and why?
DC: This is becoming more popular as a result of the highly publicized
heartbreaking tragedies which have been occurring in the foreign countries
that manufacture the majority of the clothes Americans wear and the
disappointment in the lack of transparency behind those far away operations.
“Brand USA” is also becoming more trendy in foreign markets, such as China’s
consumer market which is experiencing explosive growth right now, so these
are some of the factors coming into play with the expansion of the “Made in
FB: I personally worry about the proliferation of denim brands, because there
can only be so much cotton in the world. Is there any plan to regulate the use
of cotton, to keep fashion labels from causing a shortage?
DC: As far as global cotton markets go, China actually has such a surplus of
cotton right now that it is unsure of what to with it! What I do view as a
concern however, is the intensive amount of water used in production and
what that translates to as “big cotton” business looks to expanding production
across the African continent, many countries for which have few laws in place
to govern the conservation of resources or environmental laws.
FB: I’m curious about the fashion industry’s more involved interest in African
textiles. Can you tell us what’s going on and how that will affect production
DC: Manufacturing in Africa is growing in popularity as supply chains become
more efficient and the quality of the finished product continues to rise. Couple
this with the low labor costs and it’s a recipe for continued growth.
FB: If there were one decision maker in the world that you could get a 15
minute meeting with, who would it be and why?
DC: Oprah Winfrey because she “gets it done” and manages to look great all
the while throughout!
Deanna and fellow lawyer Laurie Marshall will be at the Science, Business, and Industry Library at 2:30 pm on February 6th, 2014 for the ‘Fashion
Protection: Trademark Basics and Fashion Compliance’. The address is 188 Madison Avenue, near 34th in NYC.
By: Faith Bowman