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Sat Jun 22, 2019, 07:23 PM

Fashion world shaken by cultural appropriation claims

Fashion world shaken by cultural appropriation claims

The women embroiderers of the remote Mexican mountain village of Tenango de Doria made worldwide headlines this week when their government went to war with an American designer for "plagiarising" their patterns.

Wes Gordon, the artistic director of the New York label founded by Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera, found himself accused of cultural appropriation.

The women of the indigenous community in the east of the country told AFP how they felt cheated of their traditional motifs where "each element has a personal, family or community meaning".

It is the latest in a long line of controversies where multinational brands stand accused of ransacking the cultural heritage of poor villagers.

Four years ago another indigenous Mexican community complained that the French designer Isabel Marant had lifted a 600-year-old Tlahuitoltepec blouse design that is the symbol of the Mixe people.

Mexico has also previously protested about Zara, Mango and Michael Kors designs.


The people who created the designs, or inherited them over generations, should received the credit, and NEVER be ignored when designers use their unique expressions.

Images of the town, the area, and more designs:


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 08:51 PM

1. Beautiful designs. Complicated issue. Seems to me that in cases of copying a design or motif

common to only a few, permission should be sought, credit given, and monetary remuneration

However, when a designer uses an already widely copied and shared style aesthetic, one that has become cross-cultural, more common to larger groups, the line is more blurry. We can’t stop people from making caftans, selling
fleurs-de-lis stencils, skirts reminiscent of an era, “French provincial” styled furniture.

I am trying to find when and how using an influence, an artistic aesthetic, a globally encountered
style might be ok, though still in need of crediting and when an act of cultural theft has been committed.

Comes up with food too. All kinds of cookbooks, restaurants, whole culinary empires, for instance,
sell Southern cooking, but have never credited black communities or specific black cooks who originated much of what came to be known as a regional cooking style.

Thank you for posting this. I’m still pondering. No brainer though about examples featured in the article you post. Plagiarism, theft, cultural rip-off.

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Response to emmaverybo (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 08:59 PM

2. The first thing I thought of was Irish knitting designs, which are particular to families --

each pattern represented a person/family, so that when a fisherman went overboard, they could ID the body. But the elaborate cables, bobbles, etc., have all been used again and again in patterns everywhere.

Scottish kilt plaids would be another example.

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Response to Nay (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 09:09 PM

3. Hm. Thanks for these examples, closer to their original sources than those I used, and yet as

you say, now used everywhere. Actually, did not know the interesting, and sad, purpose for intricate Irish knit.
I guess the trick is to make that, losing original sources, more difficult, and yet what happens then to the rich design world we get to share in?
Thinking musical influences too.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 10:31 PM

4. If the entire fashion industry disappeared for one year

Would we notice? Or even care?

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