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Fashion Law Institute Diary: Event Day 2

7 June 2011 No Comment

Guest Speaker Fashion Law Institute

Today, designer Sigrid Olsen stopped by to speak to our class about her experience in the fashion industry. Olsen’s background as an artist andin textile design led her to the clothing business. She gained a following but, against the advice of her attorney, signed a contract with Liz Claiborne Inc., which purchased the brand from Olsen and her investors.

While there were good times, Claiborne Inc. eventually told Olsen her brand was losing customers and money and that Olsen’s line and stores would be closed. Because Liz still owns the trademark for the Sigrid Olsen brand, Olsen is limited by a contract signed years ago. Fortunately ,Olsen is no longer bound by the non-compete agreement contained in the contract and was able start fresh, going back to her roots in art.

Olsen’s advice: don’t expect things to end happily ever after. Her company had become so large that she did not get to do what she loved, which is creative based–she ended up being the head of her company and being  in meetings all day. It’s important for designers to think about what they want to do next and have an exit strategy when considering going mass market. Olsen also stressed that designers should not use their own name for their brand. If a designer decides to sell the brand, but has to move on to something else, he or she will still have creative control over their name.

Learn more about Sigrid Olsen in the HBO documentry Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags

Danielle Phillips

Fashion Law Contributor

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