Mexico City, Mexico: Clothing giants like Zara, Anthropologie, and Patowl have been chastised for using designs and other components of Mexican indigenous textiles in their collections without permission, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Culture.
The government has written to the three labels, requesting that they publicly explain why the “collective property” of indigenous peoples in the southern state of Oaxaca was privatized, as well as how they planned to pay the impacted communities.
Minister Alejandra Frausto warned the businesses not to jeopardize the cultures’ “identity and economy,” and urged for changes that would put indigenous designers from Mexico’s 56 ethnic groups on par with major names.
She went on to say that protecting their rights, “which have historically been unseen,” was an ethical issue that needed to be addressed both locally and globally.
Frausto’s separate missives to each brand, dated May 13 and signed by him, identify specific products that are defective.
The ministry stated that a Midi dress with a belt integrated features from Mixtec culture from the municipality of Oaxaca in San Juan in the case of Spanish corporation Zara.
Anthropologie’s Marka embroidered shorts are believed to contain parts of Mixe culture, and Patowl, another American brand, is accused of manufacturing a “faithful duplicate” of Zapotec people’s traditional clothes for its Tops printed T-shirt line.
Mexico isn’t the first country to speak out against the issue.
It sued Isabel Marant, a French fashion designer, in November over her current collection, which it claimed commercialized indigenous elements.
Carolina Herrera, as well as the Spanish businesses Rapsodia and Mango, have been singled out for stealing Mexican designs.