By Yaseen Eldik and Megan Michaels
“I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes.” -Oscar De La Renta
Fashion is an ubiquitous force in daily life. What to wear (and certainly what not to) is a deliberate choice for most individuals. The thrill to embrace what is in vogue, or the desire to reject it, inevitably forms a part of one’s identity. This decision is a manner of self-expression or self-design that plays an ineluctable role in how one socially presents oneself and how one is perceived by others.  As humans subconsciously and consciously react to visual cues, they judge others based on the clothing they wear. The Oxford English Dictionary captures the ambidexterity of the word fashion: it is to “make, build, shape; [so] in [a] wider sense, [it includes] visible characteristics [and] appearance [which can be] said both of material and of immaterial things.” Packed inside this definition, is an awareness that fashion is a form of art.
Why then have fashion designs been denied the same protection under United States’ intellectual property laws that other art forms, such as painting, sculpture, and even architecture, have been granted? The most prominent argument is that fashion design cannot be protected by copyright because clothing is strictly a “useful article” that serves the purpose of covering and protecting one’s body—and copyright does not protect utilitarian works. Others might argue that fashion trends are fleeting and are recycled too often in order to warrant any period of protection. However, these and similar arguments do not adequately address the present text of the newest legislative proposal, the Innovative Design and Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA).
Fashion is a critical component of the United States economy and one of the most pervasive features of American culture. Every designer and consumer is affected by the implications of this debate. The United States must amend its current statutes or propose new regulations to grant property rights to designers, and as a result, legal protection to their original ideas. The cycle of creativity which has nourished the spirit of fashion risks waning because of this void in American law. This article intends to offer proponents of design protection, and those who criticize it, a framework for reaching an agreement. The piece is meant to offer suggestions, for those involved in this contentious debate, on how to reframe their positions in order for a solution to be reached so a design copyright bill, like the IDPPPA, can be passed successfully. This article will examine the current laws that provide limited rights to designers in the United States, and evaluate the arguments that are made against the extension of copyright law proposed in the IDPPPA. We then seek to demonstrate the negative effect that the lack of design right has on the economy, and proceed to examine European laws, subsequently making recommendations to amend current U.S. law based on European precedent.
*Yaseen Eldik and Megan Michaels are second year JD students at Harvard Law School.
 The Value of Style, Psych. Today (July 1, 2005), http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200507/the-value-style.
 Fashion, Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/view/Entry/68389?rskey=1MFaOV&result=1#eid (last visited Sept. 25 2014).
 Art is “The expression or application of creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting, drawing, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Art, Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/view/Entry/11125?rskey=tgrlPJ&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid (last visited Sept. 25 2014).
 Useful article is defined in 17 U.S.C.S. § 101 as one with “an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information.”
 Boyds Collection v. Bearington Collection, Inc., 360 F. Supp. 2d 655, 661, (M.D. Pa. 2005).
 See Xiao, Emma Yao, Note, The New Trend, Protecting, American Fashion Designs Through National Copyright Measures, 28 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 417, 436 (2011).