An Eye for an Eye: A VERY Brief History of the Sewing Needle

The sewing needle holds a special place in history. From its ancient beginnings where a precursor device was used to pierce skins and thread thin strips of hide or sinew together to the modern-day mass-produced steel tool, this humble implement has been an important part of human culture. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, along with the development of spinning and weaving techniques, people began making needles out of slender pieces of metal with a slot or “eye” formed through the metal at one end and a sharp point formed at the other end.

Needle making has a rich history, with a number of different styles being used throughout the centuries. The sewing needle is also one of the first examples of wire-making technology. It has been found in excavations of Gravettian archeological sites.  Early religious texts reference needles as one of the five tools brought from Paradise by Adam and Eve.  At a site in the northern deserts of China, researchers discovered needles that were more than 10,000 years old along with tools that may have aided in their creation.  Some were wide and flat, perhaps used to stitch thick hides; others were narrow and circular, which may indicate that they were used for delicate work such as embroidery. In the past, sewing needles made of Gold and Silver were highly coveted wedding gifts for the very wealthy. Blacksmiths made needles from iron and other metals. It wasn’t until around 1640 that the first commercial needles were made in England. The industry took off and by the 18th century Redditch, England had become a hub for needle manufacture. Millions of steel needles were made every year. This early mass production made needles cheap and readily available to everyone. Continue reading “An Eye for an Eye: A VERY Brief History of the Sewing Needle”

Invent’a Magenta

Pantone’s announcement of its Color of the Year is an event that inspires the celebration of the latest trends in design. Every year since 2000, a panel of experts meets in a European capital to select the shade that best represents the mood and spirit of the times.  The selection process is a secret and Pantone only announces the hue twice a year. They gather “representatives from various nations’ color standards groups” to present and debate colors before deciding. In choosing a hue, the experts look at trends, cultural influences, and global happenings to decide what will be the hottest colors for the coming year.

In 2023, the color of choice is Viva Magenta, which combines reddish-pink and yellow tones that are said to convey bravery, strength, and exuberance. According to the company, Viva Magenta is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes in the natural dye family. It is also part of a broader Magenta Universe that includes other shades and complementary colors like pale and bright pinks, reds, and neutrals. Viva Magenta is a bold, fearless, and exuberant shade of color that’s ideal for apparel, accessories, and home decor. It encourages an optimistic celebration that writes a new narrative, according to Pantone. Continue reading “Invent’a Magenta”

Tut, Tut, Tut

When the tomb of King Tut was discovered in 1922, it ignited a worldwide craze for Egyptian Revival Jewelry. The discovery, along with the translation of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, helped bring Egyptomania to a fever pitch in the West. But this interest in ancient civilizations dates back much further than these events, originating with the French Revolution and Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt. During his time in Egypt, the French monarch studied archaeology as a science and made many

Egyptian scarab beetle, a symbol of wealth

discoveries. When he returned to France, he brought home a treasure trove of inspiration.  Napoleon continued to pursue an interest in Egypt and its ancient history.

This interest in Egypt spread to Europe and influenced not only the design of a wide range of products, but also the way we see and think about architecture, music, and art. It even permeated the fashion industry. Jewelry became a popular form of expression that reflected an individual’s interest in Egypt’s ancient culture. A lotus flower was often depicted in jewelry, with its symbolic association with the Sun god Aman-Ra. The ankh, a hieroglyph for life, was also an important motif in Egyptian jewelry. The Ba, a bird-like aspect of the ‘soul’ that could travel out of the tomb after death, was another key symbol in Egyptian culture. These motifs were used in many styles of jewelry, from heavy gold shield shaped brooches and earrings of the Victorian period to the more refined ‘Art Deco’ pieces that are still in vogue today.

Cloisonné enamel was also very popular among jewelers and was frequently used in the depiction of Egyptian motifs. The motifs, including ram’s head and scarab beetles, were also often carved in precious and semiprecious gemstones, for example, sapphire and lapis lazuli, which the ancients believed would protect the wearer from evil. In the late 19th century, when the craze for Egyptian motifs reached its peak, jewelers were not attempting to recreate ancient Egyptian motifs as accurately as they had done in the past, but rather to adapt them to a modern style. The Egyptian Revival movement was an apt name for this refined mash-up of two different eras and a fusion of artistic technique. Continue reading “Tut, Tut, Tut”

Programming Fashion

Weaving fibers to form a fabric has been a part of human existence since ancient times. Weaving is the process of interlacing longitudinally oriented warp threads with horizontally oriented weft threads to form a woven fabric. Weaving is performed on a loom, a device arranged to hold warp threads under tension while allowing the weft threads to be sequentially added to them, to produce a fabric. The relative movement and positioning of the warp and weft threads during the weaving process results in a sequence of thread placements that together form a pattern in the finished fabric. To change patterns, the sequence of thread placements must be modified, a traditionally labor and time intensive process. Through the centuries, looms have had a variety of configurations, but their basic function has remained the same.

Loom technology has seen a variety of innovations throughout history in a continuous effort to make fabric production faster, easier, and more cost-effective. The Jacquard machine invented by French weaver Joseph-Marie Jacquard (born 1752 in Lyon, France) revolutionized the field of weaving. His invention, which uses punch cards to represent a desired sequence of thread placements during operation of the loom, greatly reduced the labor involved in the process of weaving. Jacquard designed a device that would be attached to a loom to control the placement of individual warp threads according to a pre-set progression of steps represented and controlled by a pattern of holes in each of a set of punch cards. This allowed looms to not only produce complex textile patterns such as brocade, damask, and lace, but also to be changed quickly from one pattern to another. By simply exchanging a first set of punch cards for a second set of punch cards, the loom could be reprogrammed to produce a new fabric pattern. Jacquard looms are used for weaving all sorts of intricate patterned textiles. They could be programmed to weave a single pattern fabric or a combination of patterns with different colors. Continue reading “Programming Fashion”

US FDA Seeks Head of Human Foods, Looks to Move Cosmetics Work

Duane Morris attorney Kelly Bonner was quoted in an article in Chemical Watch on March 3.

“The US Food and Drug Administration has started its search for a deputy commissioner for its new human foods programme, and plans to move certain cosmetics functions to another part of the agency to advance oversight of the products. […]

The inclusion of cosmetics in the proposed restructuring is “very significant”, said Kelly Bonner, associate with law firm Duane Morris. Continue reading “US FDA Seeks Head of Human Foods, Looks to Move Cosmetics Work”

Sephora Disputes “Misleading” Allegations in Clean Beauty Class Action Lawsuit


On March 2, 2023, Sephora filed its reply in support of its motion to dismiss proposed class action claims that its “Clean at Sephora” program was false and misleading, disputing allegations that a significant portion of relevant, reasonable consumers were or could be misled about what ‘Clean at Sephora’ means, and that the ingredients permitted by Sephora’s program were potentially harmful to humans.

Sephora’s reply (presumably) concludes preliminary briefing in what has become a closely-watched lawsuit in the beauty and wellness industry over the meaning of the term “clean beauty.”[1] Absent clear regulatory guidance from the FDA and the FTC, companies’ claims involving the terms “clean,” “natural,” “nontoxic,” or “organic” have been scrutinized in social media, and by an increasingly active and organized plaintiffs’ bar.

While it remains to be seen how the court will decide the “Clean at Sephora” case, companies should continue expect more litigation in this area, as what it means for beauty products to be clean, natural, nontoxic, or safe, remains the subject of intense debate. 

Case Background

As explained in our previous publications (here, here, and here), the market for clean beauty is expected to reach an estimated $11.6 billion by 2027.[2] But absent clear regulatory guidance about what it means for beauty products to be “clean,” “natural,” “nontoxic,” or “safe, promoting products as “clean” can carry significant regulatory risks, and leaves the industry ripe for class action litigation.

Sephora launched its “Clean at Sephora” program in 2018.[3] To qualify for inclusion in the program, which spans across various product categories, products must be formulated without certain common cosmetic ingredients—such as parabens, sulfates SLS and SLES, phthalates, formaldehyde and more—that are linked to possible human health concerns.[4]

On November 22, 2023, Plaintiff Lindsay Finster filed a proposed class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleging that products advertised as part of the “Clean at Sephora” program contain ingredients that are “inconsistent with how consumers understand” the term “clean.”[5]

According to plaintiff, consumers understand the definition of “clean” beauty to mean the dictionary’s definition of “clean”: “free from impurities, or unnecessary and harmful components, and pure.”[6] Thus, to be considered “clean” in the context of beauty, plaintiff alleged that products should be “made without synthetic chemicals and ingredients that could harm the body, skin or environment.”[7] But, as plaintiff contended, “a significant percentage of products with the ‘Clean at Sephora’ [seal] contain ingredients inconsistent with how consumers understand the term.”[8] Consequently, plaintiff alleged that the “Clean at Sephora” program “misleads consumers into believing that the products being sold are “natural,” and “not synthetic” and to paying a price premium based on this understanding.”[9]

Plaintiffs alleged potential class action violations of §§ 349 and 350 of New York’s General Business Law (“NY GBL”), as well as multi-state consumer protection statutes, and breach of express and implied warranty, the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, fraud, and unjust enrichment claims.[10]

Sephora’s Motion to Dismiss

On February 2, 2023, Sephora moved to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint, arguing that “[i]t is not plausible that reasonable consumers are or could be confused by the ‘Clean at Sephora’ program” for several reasons.[11]

First, Sephora argued that plaintiff relied on unsupported and conclusory allegations about consumers understanding of the word “clean.”[12] While plaintiff argued that consumers understood the definition of “clean” beauty to mean the products made without synthetic chemicals and or potentially harmful ingredients, Sephora countered that plaintiff failed to plead any facts showing that a significant portion of relevant reasonable consumers could be misled by Sephora’s claims into believing that the “Clean at Sephora” program consisted of only natural products and ingredients.[13] As Sephora noted, words like “natural,” “organic,” and the like never appeared on the label or elsewhere.[14] Instead, plaintiff relied upon “on selectively quoted blog posts and webpages from small businesses, which not only lack reliability and authority but are presented without evidence that any significant number of consumers have even read them, let alone agreed with them.”[15]

Second, Sephora argued that plaintiff mischaracterized Sephora’s representations as being about the kinds of ingredients included in the program, rather than excluded.[16] Thus, plaintiff was attempting to turn “Clean at Sephora” into “Natural at Sephora”—claims that Sephora did not make.[17] On the contrary, Sephora’s marketing for the program focused on the exclusion of certain ingredients linked to potential human health outcomes.[18] Because Sephora made no representations about the products or ingredients included, it argued that it could not mislead consumers about the safety of included products or ingredients in the program.[19] Moreover, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that any of the ingredients included in the program were potentially harmful, relying instead on a series of unattributed and unsubstantiated blog posts.”[20]

Finally, Sephora rejected plaintiff’s contention that it forced consumers to scrutinize product lists in contradiction of the Second Circuit’s 2018 decision in Mantikas v. Kellogg, which prohibits the use of ingredient lists on the side of packaging to clarify otherwise misleading presentations where plaintiff failed to identify any misleading conduct by Sephora.[21]

Sephora also rejected plaintiff’s efforts to seek relief under other unspecified consumer protection statutes, arguing that plaintiff failed to plead how the unspecified consumer protection statutes were similar to the NY GBL,[22] and disputed plaintiff’s breach of warranty, consumer fraud, and unjust enrichment claims as duplicative of plaintiff’s NY GBL claims, or otherwise contingent on the same erroneous premise—that the ‘Clean at Sephora’ label is misleading—and thus, equally deficient.[23]

In opposition to Sephora’s motion to dismiss, plaintiff reiterated that it was sufficiently plausible that reasonable consumers would perceive the “Clean at Sephora” as excluding synthetic ingredients, and that “Clean at Sephora” meant free from potentially harmful ingredients.[24] Plaintiff further contended that resolution of her multi-state claims was not ripe until the class certification stage,[25] and that Sephora’s advertising campaign created an express warranty that “Clean at Sephora” products were formulated without potentially harmful ingredients.[26]

In its reply, Sephora argued that reasonable consumers could not interpret the phrase “Clean at Sephora” as limited to only “natural” ingredients when Sephora “prominently explains, in plain terms, exactly what it means by the phrase: ‘formulated without parabens, sulfates sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), phthalates, mineral oils, formaldehyde, and more.’”[27] Sephora also refuted plaintiff’s efforts to characterize the program’s inclusion of the phrase “and more” into an impression that synthetic ingredients were excluded along with the listed ingredients, noting that plaintiff alleged no facts to support her contention that reasonable consumers shared that impression. [28]

Finally, Sephora rejected what it described as plaintiff’s efforts to conflate the meaning of the word “clean” with “non-synthetic” or “natural,” or otherwise assert that because products are not “natural,” they were not safe, noting that not all synthetic ingredients were unsafe, while not all natural ingredients were safe. [29]


Although the recent Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA), which was passed by Congress on December 23, 2022, significantly expands FDA’s authority over cosmetics, it provides comparatively little guidance on the kinds of marketing or promotional claims brands can make about the safety or purity of their products. Consequently, these issues are expected to remain the subject of intense scrutiny and costly litigation.

It remains to be seen how the court will rule in the “Clean at Sephora” case. Nevertheless, this case remains closely-watched within the beauty and wellness industry, and we will continue to update you as the case develops.

[1] See Sephora’s Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss (“Reply”) at 1, Finster, et al, v. Sephora USA, Inc., No. 6:22-cv-1187 (GLS/ML) (N.D.N.Y.), Mar. 3, 2023 (Dkt. No. 18).

[2]Cosmetics Companies Invite Legal Risks With ‘Clean’ Marketing,” Law360, September 1, 2022


[4] Sephora Clean Beauty Guide,

[5] Complaint (“Compl.”) at ¶ 15, Finster, et al, v. Sephora USA, Inc., No. 6:22-cv-1187 (GLS/ML) (N.D.N.Y.), Nov. 11, 2022 (Dkt. No. 1).

[6] Id. at ¶ 2.

[7] Id. at ¶ 2-4.

[8] Id. at ¶ 15.

[9] Id. at ¶ 35.

[10] Id. at 6-10.

[11] Motion to Dismiss at 1, Finster, et al, v. Sephora USA, Inc., No. 6:22-cv-1187 (GLS/ML) (N.D.N.Y.), Feb. 2, 2022 (Dkt. No. 6-1).

[12] Id. at 7-8.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id. at 9.

[16] Id. at 1.

[17] Id. at 7-8.

[18] Id.

[19] Id. at 10-11.

[20] Id. at 11-12.

[21] See 910 F.3d 633, 636–37 (2d Cir. 2018).

[22] Id. at 14.

[23] Id. at 15-19. Sephora also advanced several pleading deficiency arguments, including plaintiff’s failure to allege the product was advertised as “free from defects” as required by the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.

[24] See Opposition to Sephora’s Motion to Dismiss (“Opp.”) at 4 (Feb. 23, 2023) (Dkt. No. 15).

[25] Id. at 7.

[26] Id. at 8.

[27] See Reply at 3.

[28] Id.

[29] Id. at 4.

From Home-Made to Store-Bought Fashion

Fashion is a way of creating new and distinctive designs that can be worn by different people in different settings. It is often a reflection of the times in which it is created, but it can also be influenced by, technology, culture, even religion. Before the mid-19th century, most clothing was home-made.  Occasionally, a village dressmaker was available to make a made-to-measure dress.  The wealthy often employed seamstresses who dealt directly, and often exclusively, with their patron. The rapid mechanization of fabric production led to the appearance of ready-to-wear stores that provided the middle classes an opportunity to move away from home-made garments.

Aniline dye printed fabrics were used for many of the garments that were produced in this period. They were woven according to a manufacturing method that caused the dyes to run down the surface of the fabric. This made the garments more textured and interesting.  The process created fabrics that contrasted with the smoother, lighter-colored cottons and linens that were also popular at the time. Aniline dyes could also be applied to other materials to give them a more sophisticated appearance. One example is aniline colored velvet which was very popular through the 1890’s. It was made in a range of colors, from soft pink to dark red and sometimes bright purple. The Aniline colored velvet was a soft, comfortable fabric that clung to the body, revealing the wearer’s shape, and giving it an attractive drape. It was especially popular for evening dresses. Velvet was made in a range of textures, from fine to coarse. It was usually trimmed with delicate embroidery, lace, ribbons and beading. Continue reading “From Home-Made to Store-Bought Fashion”

MoCRA Is Here — Now What? Unpacking Litigation and Regulatory Risk for Cosmetics Brands Following MoCRA’s Enactment

On December 23, 2022, Congress enacted the first major statutory change to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s ability to regulate cosmetics since the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Passed with bipartisan and industry support, the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA) significantly expands FDA’s rulemaking and enforcement authority over cosmetics and creates substantial new compliance obligations for manufacturers, packers, and distributors of cosmetics intended for sale in the United States.

Although MoCRA establishes several new requirements concerning product safety, it provides comparatively little guidance on the kinds of marketing or promotional claims brands can now make about the safety of their products.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorneys  Rick Ball, Alyson Walker Lotman and Kelly Bonner, please visit the Duane Morris website.

Color My World: Aniline Dyes in Fashion

The past centuries have seen a variety of cultural and technological shifts, and the fashion world has followed suit. These changes have also had a profound impact on the way we dress.  In the 19th century, the commercialization of newly discovered aniline dyes for printed fabrics had a profound impact on fashion. The use of these synthetic dyes changed the way we colored fabrics, allowing manufacturers to scale up production. Aniline dyes made it easy for manufacturers to print on a wide range of fabric types all with consistent hue and tone of the color between batches. This allowed for the reemergence of the dyeing industry, which was formerly languishing because of its long dependency on expensive naturally derived pigments. Continue reading “Color My World: Aniline Dyes in Fashion”

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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