Reap What You Sew: Costume Designers Try for Share of Licensing Pie From On-Screen Work


Professor and Fashion Law Institute director Susan Scafidi shares her insight in a Variety article discussing costume designers’ lack of involvement in off-screen adaptations of their work. 

For years, costume designers have been fighting for pay equity — an issue thrown into sharp relief by the difference in remuneration between the largely female Costume Designers Guild and the predominantly male members of the Art Directors Guild.

But an equally growing concern bubbling away under the surface has been a lack of costume designers’ involvement in the off-screen monetization of their designs. As Variety recently reported, when Disney collaborated with fashion brand Rag & Bone on an officially licensed ‘Cruella’ collection to tie in with the new live-action film, ‘Cruella’ costume designer Jenny Beavan didn’t see a dime. In fact, she didn’t even know a collaboration was in the works until she spotted the news on social media.


“Now that the movie and television industry has caught up to the fact that costumes are not only powerful storytelling tools but also valuable properties, it’s natural that costume designers would want a piece of the merchandising action,” says professor Susan Scafidi, founder and director of Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute.

“Perhaps the more complex issue is determining when a costume designer’s contribution to the licensed merchandise has been significant enough to warrant royalties,” she says. Scafidi makes the distinction, for example, between carbon-copy Halloween costumes and a T-shirt featuring the movie’s logo.

“All of this, of course, can be resolved through negotiation and careful drafting of agreements,” she says.

Read the full article.


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