Interview with Professor Barbara Pozzo, our Fashionable Lawyer of the Month!
Barbara, you are the coordinator of the postgraduate Fashion Law course at the Insubria University of Como and at the University of Milan. No similar course has ever been offered by an Italian academic institution before. Can you tell us where the idea to set up such a course came from?
I graduated in Law 25 years ago at the University of Milan, a city that is always been considerate one of the world’s fashion capitals and Como, where I hold my chair in Comparative Law and recently I have been appointed as Head of the Department, is the city of silk. This is the reason why we thought these were the right places to do an initiative in the fashion sector. The idea that came to my mind was then to imagine a postgraduate course that graduate students as well as already practicing lawyers could attend. With initial financial support from the Chamber of Commerce and the Bar Association of Como and – of course – with the help of various incredibly generous colleagues, we inaugurated in 2014 the first postgraduate course in Fashion Law, which was then replicated, with minor changes, at the State University of Milan.
The course is always a great success. The majority of participants are young female lawyers, does this have something to do with the fact that the legal profession is changing, or is it that fashion mainly attracts women?
Well…..Good question! I think both are true. As a law professor I have witnessed the radical change that
has happened in all fields of the law towards a wider presence of women. When I attended Law School none of the professor at the Law School and students were predominantly men. In this quarter of a century, everything changed. Many women no and students are equally distributed between the sexes, if not predominantly women. On the other side it is also true that fashion mainly attracts women, especially in this case.
You are also an expert on sustainable fashion. Could you tell us what the main challenges are? Is there any provision for the future of green fashion?
Sustainability is nowadays a core value of all European policies. Since the 5th and even more since the 6th
Action Program for the Environment, the motto of the EU Commission has been “Let the market work for the environment”, promoting a new industrial revolution. This means, among other things, that industries must be incentivized to promote “green” economy initiatives, while consumers must be helped to make “sustainable” choices. In this scenario it is no wonder that the fashion industry has had to play an important role. The Sustainability Manifesto of Camera della Moda Nazionale Italiana and Sistema Moda Italia is a milestone in this field, because it gives the framework for the whole fashion business. Though we also have to think about the various other initiatives that are taking place at different levels, like the Sustainable Fabrics and Accessories Catalogue, launched by the Sustainability-lab of Blumine s.r.l., or to the Detox Campaign launched by a famous ONG to which various Italian designers have adhered.
What are the benefits that companies might obtain by adopting an environmentally sustainable approach?
There are various benefits that companies might see as a result of adopting an environmentally sustainable approach. I would say that the first benefit is reputational, in the broadest sense of the term. It concerns the reputation that the company might acquire on the market towards new customers, but also the reputation that may attract the best and engaged staff. Furthermore, taking an environmentally sustainable approach generally implies a path of self-consciousness of the environmental costs generated by the company. As a matter of fact, an environmentally sustainable approach might lead to the reformulation of recycling, energy conservation, energy- efficient office equipment, and water-saving policies, that will allow the company to save money by cutting bills.
Going back to your personal taste, what is your “fashion statement”?
A dress, like make-up and a jewel, is an expression of my own personality. Dressing up in a certain way make me feel comfortable with myself and unconsciously affect on my way to face everyday life and to relate with the others. What I wear when I enter in my university class is different from what I wear when I hang out with my 15 years old daughter (that, by the way, is way more trendy than me!). Nevertheless I have never thought that opting for grey “mise” would have been a good idea.
Does ever one of your mentor suggest you what to wear?
No, never. When I graduated in Law I didn’t get the chance to compare my style with that of other female models. At that time there were no women professors at the Law School. Luckily now things are way different. Women prefer to opt for grey vicuna outfits, which at that time were “mainstream”. But nobody ever told me what to wear.
In your job, how much do you think that the way you dress and present yourself is important?
The students read us and interpret us according to how we present to them: it is important how we talk to them, how and how many time we smile and if we give them the possibility to trust us and if we take seriously their questions and requests. The dress is important but till a certain point. I do not think that I will make a good impression if I would look shabby. Being confident with what I wear allow me to be relaxed when I work. All the rest is relative.
Photo Courtesy Press Office