„I create legal infrastructure at the intersection of law, fashion and traditional knowledge for sustainable collaborations between artisans and designers.”
My story is simple.
I am a lawyer with a passion for traditional textiles. Because there was no established field of law for me to work on what I love, I created it: cultural intellectual property law.
In today’s fast-fashion society, many cultural goods are subject to an appropriative behavior.
There is an uneven distribution of power between the well-established fashion and product design industry and that of artisans and craftsmen.
The problem is that the generating community does not benefit from any royalty payment or benefit sharing despite traditional inspired design being used for commercial purposes. So how do we ensure that inspiration does not transform into exploitative misappropriation?
With a background in intellectual property law and commercial law, in 2015 I started a debate on the protection of traditional cultural expressions, with a particular focus on textiles.
Born and raised in Romania and fascinated by our traditional textile culture, I wanted to design a legal mechanism that protects an identity symbol of Romanian people against counterfeiting and cultural misappropriation. I called it the cultural trademark and its role is to distinguish authentic traditional cultural goods from modern design interpretations. The purpose was to find a way to contribute financially to the sustainability of local artisanship.
Currently there is a lack of mediators and legal facilitators between cultural creative communities and the fashion and design industry.
As a legal designer and cultural intellectual property advocate I am bridging the gap between traditional local communities and the fashion industry.
My mission is to bring designers and artisans together and facilitate their collaboration for creating cultural fashion. Cultural fashion is about both traditional and contemporary design.
The combinations are multiple: authentic traditional creations made by artisans, reinterpretations of traditional designs by contemporary designers, contemporary designs manufactured with traditional techniques.
I work with both artisans and designers to identify their needs and develop benefit sharing schemes and fair distribution of intellectual property and cultural intellectual property rights. Together we then design a sustainable way of working that ensures transmission of the traditional crafts to the next generation and implies reinvestment of a part of the profits in the traditional community.
This is cultural sustainability and through such collaborative projects the fashion industry can have a decisive impact on the survival of traditional textile cultural expressions of the world.
If you are interested in the academics of cultural intellectual property, you can find all my published work here: https://unibuc.academia.edu/MonicaMoisin.