If you’re curious about what’s happening in the legal world of fashion, The Fashion Law by Julie Zerbo is the place to be. Julie started writing articles in law school as a way to learn more about fashion law - and just a short time later The Fashion Law was born. Today, TFL is frequented by both lawyers and non-lawyers who are looking for their daily-dose of fashionable legal commentary. We’re hooked, and if you’re not already - you should be, too. Meet Julie Zerbo of The Fashion Law with Blogspotter today.
We’re obsessed with The Fashion Law. Tell us about what made you want to launch TFL. Thank you. I only decided to launch the website as an afterthought. At the end of my first year of law school, one of my professors mentioned fashion law to me, and I was immediately intrigued by the marriage between the two fields, fashion and law. So, I started researching and writing on my own, exploring core legal concepts in the context of the fashion industry, as a way to learn about the topic. After a while, I had quite an archive of articles and decided to start sharing them in the form of a blog, because there really were not many sites at the time that were consistently providing content on fashion law and the business of fashion.
When did you officially start blogging? It feels like a very long time ago. I launched the site in 2012.
You’re a legal expert - a profession far different from almost anything in fashion as many of us know it. Did you study fashion as an undergrad before heading to law school? If not, how did you fall into fashion? I did not. My prior studies were in economics and international business. At that point in time, I was editing an economics journal and very much planning to pursue a career in that field. However, I took an internship with a law firm in my final semester of college (after taking a rudimentary business law course) and when it came time to graduate, my parents, who are both extremely smart, suggested law school, and I thought, “Sure, why not?” And so I went. My initial intention was to focus on constitutional law, though. I never pictured myself working in fashion.
My interest in fashion is twofold, really. I have always had a significant appreciation for well-made, well-designed garments, and upon learning a bit about the core concepts of law, I was intrigued by the integral role that they play in the business of fashion. There is a lot more to fashion than meets the eye, and this is what drives me now.
What’s your main source of content inspiration? Do you frequent any websites, blogs, or publications to get information, or does press contact you directly? I frequent a lot of rather nerdy websites, such as Westlaw and Pacer (two big legal databases). I get most of my inspiration in terms of pending cases from these sites. As for the more general fashion-oriented articles on my site, overarching trends and issues in the industry often inspire me, such as why has London been such a hot bed for young talent over the past decade or what is the core objective of designer collaborations beyond the surface goal of selling the specific collection, these come from just being in the industry, I suppose, and being inquisitive beyond the most obvious trends, such as red for Fall/Winter 2015.
I don’t really read other blogs too much because I get frustrated, as I tend to think everything should be academic or cerebral, or have substantial context, when that certainly is not the case. As for websites, I read Business of Fashion very regularly. I read absolutely everything that Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times writes. She is so sharp. Alexander Fury of The Independent is up there, as well. John Koblin, who writes for the New York Times, has also been on my radar lately. I also love that Cathy Horyn is back and writing for NY Magazine’s site! (I know I am forgetting someone here!)
My one personal style blog exception is BryanBoy, who I admire because he doesn’t promote fast fashion and actually purchases a lot of his own clothing, which I think is refreshing and authentic.
"I gain a lot of joy from being able to emphasize the importance of education and intelligence to my peers and those that are even younger than me." — Julie Zerbo
Fashion law encompasses a variety of subjects, including copyright, trademark, and licensing (to name a few). What is your favorite thing to blog about/report on - and how do you typically get started? How long does an article take to complete - from start to finish? My favorite thing to write about is probably the trends in law or business in connection with the fashion industry. Much like the way fashion is representative of the time in which we are living, the trends in legal cases or ways of doing business are very much like this, as well. I also really enjoy writing about individuals in the industry who I admire. Raf Simons is a very good example of this.
I can’t say that I have a set way of doing things. I am very lucky because I have the freedom to write about whatever I think is important at any given time and can approach the writing process in varying ways. Honestly, a lot of my writing begins on my iPhone in the car or during fashion month, for instance, I was doing a lot while I was waiting for shows to start. However, because there is a lot of research that goes into most of the posts, there is obviously a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, as well. As for time, some posts are very time-consuming, taking me an hour here, an hour there over a few days. Other posts, such as purely news ones, take 15 minutes at most.
How would you describe your personal style? Black. I almost always wear black and I’m not terribly girly. So, dark jeans and a Jil Sander tee or Prada knit tank top is usually it for me. I’m also very, very minimalist in terms of silhouettes and accessories. I hate jewelry (with the exception of a red bracelet that I never take off) and I hate the idea of dressing for attention. So, I suppose my personal style is best characterized as straightforward with an emphasis on the quality of my wardrobe. I have always preferred one really nice garment to five trendy, lower quality ones.
Tell us what you’re wearing to the courtroom (to defend your client, of course). In terms of work, I try to dress rather conservatively. I can’t stand skirt suits or the other stereotypical female lawyer staples, but a black blouse and trousers with a classic Manolo heel feels safe to me. That’s not to say I don’t wear cropped Haider pants or a Chalayan top from time to time.
QUICK! Prada or Gucci? Prada!
QUICK! Forever21 or H&M? Prada!
Do you blog full-time? If not, how do you balance your full-time job with the demands of a heavily referenced resource blog? I do not. I have never actually blogged full time. I have always either been in school full time or working. I guess I have just chosen from early on to prioritize the website and as a result, I make time for it. So, you very rarely will see me at fashion parties! I’m at home writing.
Are there any websites or online resources that you turn to for guidance with respect to blogging and maintaining your blog? Not that I can think of. From the beginning, the blogging process has been very trial and error and I have learned a lot this way.
Does social media play a big part in your blogging process? Do you have any general “rules of thumb” that you abide by when posting to social media? Social media is more of a secondary tool, a way for me to connect with readers and people who value the same things I do, such as high fashion (as opposed to fast fashion), education, and things like that. I don’t really have any rules of thumb. My social media presence isn’t terribly calculated like that and I think that’s what people generally respond to – that sense of authenticity. I did rather recently, however, launch my own personal Twitter to try to separate the personal from the TFL brand.
What are your thoughts on branded email marketing/campaigns - do you find that they help you build your brand’s viewership base? I don’t do anything like that. I don’t think I have ever really participated in things that actively seek to build a readership. I probably should, but that’s just not really what I’m about. I would much rather spend my time writing and researching, and I think it is important to just let my work speak for itself.
What’s the most rewarding component of blogging? The relationships I’ve built. I met my mentor, Barbara Kolsun, as a result of my website. That has to be one of the single most rewarding results thus far. She has been practicing in this sector for so many years and is has such a wealth of valuable knowledge about law and the business of fashion.
Also, being able to speak to an audience and share knowledge is pretty powerful, in my opinion. I gain a lot of joy from being able to emphasize the importance of education and intelligence to my peers and those that are even younger than me.
What’s one thing that blogging has taught you that you never expected to learn? It has taught (and continues to teach) me to be true to my vision, and to be objective at all costs, which is much more difficult than it sounds!