Rina Bovrisse has become an international figure, a defender of women’s rights within the fashion industry. But like many activists, Bovrisse had to first experience what she saw as discrimination before taking a stand.
The Japanese native started her fashion and design career nearly 20 years ago, traveling to New York, London, and Paris to intern and work for companies like Miu Miu and Chanel before eventually landing at Prada. There, her expertise and training led her to a job at the company’s Tokyo headquarters as senior retail operations manager.
It was there that her current battle began. Bovrisse said she witnessed many different forms of discrimination and harassment, finally raising concerns after she claimed she had become a victim. Weeks later, she was fired—and then immediately filed a complaint against Prada.
She and the company failed to settle, and a civil case ensued, but Prada countersued Bovrisse for damaging the company’s image. A Prada spokesperson issued a statement on the case to Salon.com that reads in part, “In Our opinion, this is just an instrumentalization, that is to say an attempt to use highly ethical issues for mere personal interests.” In November 2012, Japanese courts ruled the brand had been discriminatory, but declared it was allowed since the company was part of the appearance-focused fashion industry.
Bovrisse then took her case to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations CEDAW (Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women). The case, which began in 2010, was the first to arrive there that concerned the fashion industry. The UN did not comment on Bovrisse’s case, but UN officials issued a statement urging Japan to establish a law against sexual harassment.
The ruling did not immediately restore Bovrisse’s career in the fashion industry. In fact, she has been unable to find another, similar job, but she continues on her crusade for fairness.
Check out what she had to say her interview with DNA by watching the video above.