Isabel Marant: Designer apologises for Mexican appropriation

Isabel Marant: Designer apologises for Mexican appropriation

French fashion designer Isabel Marant has apologised after the Mexican government accused her of appropriating traditional indigenous patterns.

Mexican Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero said she used the styles without acknowledgment.

One cape appears to use a pattern unique to the Purepecha community of northwestern Michoacan state. It is on the label’s site for €490 (£440; $582).

Ms Marant said the accusations had saddened her “enormously”.

The designer said she had wanted “to promote a craft and pay tribute to the aesthetic to which it is linked”.

“If the Isabel Marant house and the designer have disrespected the Purepecha community… they implore you, and the country you represent, to accept their most sincere apologies,” she said.

Future designs would “pay tribute to our sources of inspiration”, she added.

In a response, Ms Frausto Guerrero said: “When a tribute is made to a certain culture, that culture should be included, because although it may be an ancestral culture, it is alive.”

“The communities should decide whether to accept it. You have the chance to be an ally in the defence of the cultural heritage of peoples and communities, recognising the great value of this knowledge that we must respect,” she said.

This is not the first time Ms Marant has found herself in hot water in Mexico.

In 2015, a blouse she designed was singled out by the community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, which said it was very similar to their traditional outfit.

In the past, Ms Marant has called her designs “tribal without being too literal”.

The minister invited Ms Marant to Mexico to meet the communities.

The Mexican government has called out other major brands for plagiarising indigenous designs in the past.

In July, Zara pulled a line in Mexico after it was accused of cultural appropriation over a purse which looked exactly like one Mexicans use to carry groceries – but for a much higher price. Similar complaints have been made against clothing chain Mango.

There have been calls in Mexico for copyright laws to be tightened to protect indigenous designs.

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