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What is the role of intellectual property in sustainable fashion?

One may think what has IPR to do with Sustainable Fashion. Well, fashion industry is an Intellectual Property (IP) intensive industry, that deals with plenty of creativity in the form of designs, fabric etc. However, historically, the global fashion industry has had to operate in a low-IP protection environment, especially when it comes to designs. 

Fast fashion has benefitted hugely from the low-IP protection of the industry as it has been rather risk-free to knock-off designs of high fashion or indie brands and make cheap low-quality copies of them. This way, the low-IP protection has played a role in the fashion industry’s race-to-the-bottom when it comes to sustainability. 

Fashion is also one of the most polluting industries globally, thanks to the “fast fashion” phenomenon. Fast fashion brands produce extremely high volumes of trendy garments and sell them for incredibly low prices. However, this comes at a huge cost, especially in the context of human rights abuses and our environment.  

What is the impact of low IP protection on local and sustainable fashion? How can the IP protection of fashion designs and generally of the industry be improved? What makes fash fashion so dangerous from the human rights perspective? What is the impact of sustainability on the brand value? 

Find out answers to these and many more interesting questions by listening to Heidi Härkönen, a lawyer and doctoral researcher at the University of Lapland, and Annariina Ruokamo, Research, Development, and Innovation Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and a clothing designer. 

 Let’s make fashion sustainable again! 


Heidi Härkönen’s introduction to the topic 

Follow Heidi and Annariina on Instagram! 



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