“While in college a line of neckties that I had designed were being shopped around at tradeshows without my presence, at this point I started to wonder how my intellectual property rights would be protected,” says Delaware student Mohammed Irfan Shariff, creator of the Fame Appeal blog
. Fame Appeal, a site designed to analyze the intersection between the world of fashion and the law, is a labor of love for Mohammed that he hopes will help him to network and allow him to turn his legal skills to the creative fields that he loves.
“My passion is to translate the complexities of legal disputes for industries based on creativity,” writes Mohammed on the blog, but that stated goal only hints at his broader agenda. “Doing Fame Appeal – you have to really know who you are. You have to make your own path,” says Mohammed, stating a truth that reflects his own path. Before coming to law school, Mohammed worked as a fashion designer. ““I couldn’t do fashion for ever, because once you hit your mid-thirties, if you aren’t at the top, you’re out,” he says. That realization and some advice from a previous employer pushed Mohammed to go to law school.
“Clothing is great, but what I found is that the fashion industry is unstable,” observes Mohammed, adding, “It’s a big gamble. When you have a law degree in your pocket, you can find a job. You have more options when you have a J.D.” Realizing that a legal understanding of contracts, liabilities, bankruptcy, and intellectual property protections would allow him to work in the creative fields he loved from the other direction helped give Mohammed the confidence to go to law school. When he arrived, however, he discovered that the traditional law school path might not take him where he wanted to go.
Looking at how social networking had expanded and taken off, Mohammed sought to take advantage and learn from others who shared his interests. Staci J. Riordan, Chair of the Fox Rothschild Fashion Law Practice Group in Los Angeles, California helped Mohammed develop the confidence to create Fame Appeal. “She is the one who really helped me out and told me that I was able to do it,” he says, recalling a discussion they had at a business event hosted by Fashion Group International.
“I love the law because we have to abide by it – if you break that code you’re going to pay for it – but everything happens so fast now,” observes Mohammed, adding, “Intellectual Property is a moving field and protection for your design is so important. Without that incentive to be creative, life would be really boring.” Fame Appeal allows Mohammed to keep tabs on the worlds of fashion and entertainment and how the law impacts them, but it also provides him with the means to demonstrate that he has the knowledge to succeed in the field himself.
Mohammed acknowledges that pursuing Fame Appeal as opposed to more traditional law school activities might be a gamble, but he feels that sometimes you have to take that plunge to get where you want to go. “You’ve really got to come out with something,” he says, “but if you put the time into it, you’ll get a lot out of it.”
As for what comes next, Mohammed has grand plans, declaring, “The next step is to have a Fame Appeal event.”