Regulating Style: Intellectual Property Law and the Business of Fashion in Guatemala

New book by Kedron Thomas, Assistant Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology


Book Description

Fashion knockoffs are everywhere. Even in the out-of-the-way markets of highland Guatemala, fake branded clothes offer a cheap, stylish alternative for people who cannot afford high-priced originals. Fashion companies have taken notice, ensuring that international trade agreements include stronger intellectual property protections to prevent brand “piracy.” In Regulating Style, Kedron Thomas approaches the fashion industry from the perspective of indigenous Maya people who make and sell knockoffs, asking why they copy and wear popular brands, how they interact with legal frameworks and state institutions that criminalize their livelihood, and what is really at stake for fashion companies in the global regulation of style.

About the Author

Dr. Kedron Thomas is an Assistant Professor in Sociocultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. She researches the relationship between various modes of moral and legal regulation and production regimes. She is interested in the globalization of trade and legal frameworks, the cultural and ethical dimensions of entrepreneurship and business, the semiotics of branding, and the production of fashion. By looking at this topic through an anthropological lens, she examines the cultural and moral context of brand “piracy” as well as what Maya manufacturers’ practices of copying and imitation reveal about gender, kinship, and ethnicity in the region.  
Courses taught by Kedron Thomas at Washington University in St. Louis include:
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (L48 160B)
  • Law and Culture (L48 3373)
  • Anthropology of Clothing and Fashion (L48 3331)