In agreement with the position published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Minister of Culture, Alejandra Faustro, sent a letter directed to Wes Gordon, Creative Director of the fashion firm Carolina Herrera and to the owner of the company, asking why the most recent collection of the fashion house decided to use original and representative elements of Mexico’s indigenous groups.
Based on the information shared by El Pais, Faustro has demanded a public explanation from the fashion firm, and at the same time, requested an explanation of whether the indigenous groups will receive profits from sales of these clothes.
In agreement with the information covered in El Pais,the Minister of Culture’s letter made reference to three clothing items specifically:
- One white dress which uses embroidery with colors and shapes owned by the community Tenango de Doria, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, which have a very particular representation for each family who made it.
- The second is a long black dress that has particular flowers details which are very representative of the Itsmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca.
- Last but not least, , a dress which evokes the style of very famous Mexican “zarape.
In her letter, Alejandra Faustro considered it very important to open a debate around the world about cultural appropriation, and cultural rights for indigenous people. To date , the Carolina Herrera fashion house, has not responded.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mexican embroidery and style has been appropriated, with the excuse of the “inspiration”.. Big fashion brands like Nike, Hermes, Dior, Isabel Marant as well as fast fashion brands like Mango and Zara have been involved in similar controversies.
As a consequence , last November the Mexican government developed laws intended to protect the identity and culture of the indigenous and Afromexican people.
Unfortunately, the problem goes much deeper than just clothes; interior design firms, shoe companies , and other industries continue to profit from authentic Mexican culture, without respect, investment or payment to impacted communities. Until very recently, none of these cases have resulted in punishment. Hopefully, the efforts of Alejandra Faustro and the Mexican government will slow this tide of cultural imperialism.