Created a new field in law - cultural intellectual property law.
Monica Boța Moisin.
A lawyer by qualification, Monica was always passionate about traditional textiles. She realized that there is an uneven distribution of power between the global fashion conglomerates, and the artisans and craftspeople whose designs and work is often used by these conglomerates.
Combining her background in intellectual property law and commercial law with her passion, she decided to advocate for the protection of cultural, traditional expressions, with a focus on textiles.
How? By creating a new field of law - cultural intellectual property law. FYI – cultural intellectual property rights are a new generation of rights designed to protect the intellectual work of artisans and craftspeople. The idea is to offer them compensation for being the keepers and transmitters of traditional knowledge.
Why Should You Care?
Traditional crafts are increasingly becoming a more mainstream part of our wardrobes. In India, the handloom is making a comeback. Consumers and designers are benefitting from this, but what about the artisans? Are they getting credit or sharing in the profits? In an increasingly connected world where information flows seamlessly, it is not uncommon for traditional goods to be subjected to cultural appropriation. Despite this there aren’t enough legal mediators between the fashion industry and local communities.
We caught up with Monica on what inspires her and more!
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Survival. In a physical and metaphorical sense.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work?
At this stage, the immediate challenge is to get the big fashion companies like Maison Dior, LVMH Group, Hermès, Valentino to join the initiative. Another challenge is to find funding for this stage of the project, which is the most sensitive, and creating the critical mass. However, it’s been fascinating to see how people around the world want to support the movement and get involved. It’s like an international legal start-up!
Can you share an inspiring story from your work with us?
Almost every day something inspiring happens. My conversation with Asha Scaria, founder of SWARA and member of SUSS was one such powerful interaction. The incentive to launch the website and turn the theories I had been working on into a worldwide movement came out during one of our first video conversations. Since the launch, we’ve found support in the Indian community of craftspeople, art lovers, and various professionals. India feels like a second home although I’ve never met any of these people. This also makes me believe that India will be the first country where we will implement a national cultural intellectual property policy. Another story that is important to me is an impactful moment in my relationship with an artisan from Chefchaouen, Morocco -- the moment he called me “sister” and invited me to his house to meet his wife and family.
That moment I felt he respected my work, and trusted me. These two instances bring out the beauty of this work – it’s cultural mediation which involves building trust and bridges for communication and collaboration.
What’s some advice you’d like to give to our readers who want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?
There are many facets of sustainability we can choose to integrate in our lives. To understand that all our actions and choices today directly influence our tomorrow is the fundamental aspect of a sustainable lifestyle. For me the trigger was cultural sustainability, I saw how that is directly linked to sustainability in fashion. Find your “passion” in sustainability and act on it. Every contribution creates impact. It can be a gesture as small as not ordering more than you can eat, or something that requires more effort like not buying clothes and garments imprinted or embroidered with traditional designs from companies that do not integrate the rightful design holders in the production process.
The Elevator Pitch
Seeing a gap between the local communities and big fashion conglomerates who use their designs, Monica Boța Moisin created a new field of law - cultural intellectual property law.
As a legal expert, focusing on cultural sustainability in the fashion industry, Monica mediates between these two groups, to ensure artisans share in the business profits, in a monetary or non-monetary way.
Find out more about Monica's initiative: