Cultural Appropriation in the Fashion Industry: Can Intellectual Property Rights Help?

Monday, June 3, 2019 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Public Event: Noon Lecture Series

The fashion world is facing a burst of accusations of cultural appropriation. For example, French designer Isabel Marant was criticized in 2015 for designing a dress similar to a traditional blouse that has been made for centuries by the Mixe people, an Indigenous community in Mexico. Cultural appropriation cases spark passionate debate and while borrowing of stylistic elements from other cultures is common practice, it can not only be offensive but can cause economic harm to those that the original idea or knowledge belongs. Calls for action to curb appropriation emphasize a need for Indigenous peoples to have better control over their traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), including through the intellectual property system and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Join us for a dynamic presentation from CIGI fellow, Brigitte Vézina as she explains the concept of cultural appropriation, drawing on examples of cultural appropriation in the world of fashion. Brigitte will share how intellectual property rights, in particular copyright law, fails to provide adequate protection to TCEs making them vulnerable to cultural appropriation.

The presentation will start promptly at noon, and will be preceded by a light lunch starting at 11:30am.

Please note that on-site parking is not available at the CIGI Campus for daytime events. Options for parking in Uptown Waterloo can be found here.

Event Speaker

Brigitte Vézina is a CIGI fellow and an expert on intellectual property protection of traditional cultural expressions and issues around cultural appropriation.