Mexico demands answers over use of indigenous designs

MEXICO’S culture ministry has questioned French fashion designer Isabel Marant’s use of patterns from indigenous Mexican communities, marking the government’s latest complaint over high-fashion brands appropriating local styles.

Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto. Photo: Tania Victoria

According to the ministry, Marant’s latest collection, including a long cape with stripes and starburst designs in gray and brown hues, includes elements from the Purepecha people of Mexico’s Michoacan state.

“I ask you, Ms Isabel Marant, to publicly explain on what grounds you privatize a collective property … and how its use benefits the creator communities,” Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto said in a letter to the designer.

“Some symbols that you took have a deep meaning for this culture,” Frausto said, urging protection for the artisans who have historically been “invisible.”

Marant’s company, Isabel Marant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The brand’s website says it is committed to ethical and responsible behaviour.

In 2015, the company was similarly accused of incorporating designs from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca.

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Last year, Mexico called out Venezuela-born designer Carolina Herrera and French fashion house Louis Vuitton for using traditional patterns in their designs, without regard for the people who first brought them to life. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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