Fashion house Carolina Herrera accused of cultural appropriation by Mexican government


June 13, 2019 16:40:00

The Mexican government has accused New York-based fashion house Carolina Herrera of culturally appropriating Indigenous patterns and textiles in its latest collection.

Key points:

  • Some of the garments use a traditional flower embroidery and colourful stripe pattern renowned in Mexico
  • Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto said the fashion house should explain why it used “these cultural elements”
  • A spokesperson for the company issued a statement recognising Mexican artisans

In a letter sent this week to the Venezuelan designer and Wes Gordon, the company’s creative director, Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto asked for a public explanation to justify the use of “cultural elements” in the Resort 2020 collection.

The fashion house describes the collection as having “the playful and [colourful] mood of a Latin holiday”.

Two of the six garments from the collection feature a traditional flower embroidery known as “istmo de Tehuantepec”, and another two use a colourful “Saltillo Sarape” stripe pattern, the letter noted.

“We feel obliged to draw attention to this and start a public conversation about an urgent matter that features on the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” Mr Frausto said.

He said Carolina Herrera should “publicly explain on what basis it decided to make use of these cultural elements, whose origins are documented, and how this benefits the (Mexican) communities”.

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the fashion house issued a statement recognising the “wonderful and diverse craft and textile work of Mexican artisans”.

It said the collection was inspired “by the culture’s rich [colours] and artisanal techniques”.

The extent to which fashion designers have profited from incorporating cultural designs, either without acknowledging their origins or fairly compensating communities, has been a point of contention in recent years.

Mexico’s ruling party, the leftist National Regeneration Movement, has been planning legislation to protect Indigenous communities from plagiarism and having their work used by others without receiving fair compensation.









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