Mexico has accused fashion brands Zara, Anthropologie and Patowl of cultural appropriation, claiming that they “made use” of designs created by the country’s indigenous populations.
In a series of letters written to the brands, Mexico’s Ministry of Culture asked for a “public explanation.” It also called for “benefits” to be “given back to the creative communities” that it believes invented the embroidery techniques and design motifs.
Mexico’s government said that symbols featured on Anthropologie’s embroidered shorts are reminiscent of those used by the country’s Mixe community. Credit: Anthropologie
In a press release, the Ministry of Culture took issue with a blue embroidered midi dress by Zara. It claimed the Spanish brand had drawn on the ancestral symbols and traditional “huipil” dresses produced by the Mixtec people of San Juan Colorado, Mexico, adding that the dresses typically take craftspeople at least one month to make. The item in question is no longer available for sale on Zara’s website.
Mexico believes that Patowl’s “casual flowers” shirts borrow from the embroidery techniques of the country’s Zapotec community. Credit: Patowl
In a statement emailed to CNN, Zara’s parent company, Inditex, said it had “the highest respect,” for “the Ministry (of Culture) and the communities within Mexico,” but added that “the design in question was in no way intentionally borrowed from or influenced by the artistry of the Mixtec people of Mexico.”
Neither Patowl nor Anthropologie’s parent company URBN responded to CNN’s request for comment.
In its press release, the Ministry of Culture said that indigenous communities’ “collective property” had been “privatized” by the brands, calling on them to create an “ethical framework” to work directly with its craftspeople.
The Ministry of Culture compared a Zara dress (pictured) to the “huipil” dresses produced by the Mixtec people of San Juan Colorado, Mexico. Credit: Zara
It said that it was acting to “prevent plagiarism … by national companies and transnationals,” adding that it was “protecting the rights of native peoples who have historically been disregarded.”