This year, Anthropologie began selling on their website a pair of shorts called “Daily Practice by Anthropologie Marka Embroidered Shorts” which contains graphic designs that “undeniably copy the Xaam Nïxuy blouse” an artisan-made, embroidered blouse which originates from the indigenous Mixe community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec in Oaxaca, Mexico. In response, the town’s Municipal Government published an official statement on May 26, 2021 condemning the company for “design plagiarism.” Below is a translated excerpt of their statement:
“The Xaam Nïxuy blouse which originates from the indigenous Mixe community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec contains symbolic elements that represent our historic, linguistic, cultural and cosmogonical identity. Under no circumstances should it be plagiarized by companies or by Mexican or international institutions.
The Xaam Nïxuy blouse has great significance for Tlahuitoltepec. Producing the hand-crafted blouse is a socioeconomic activity that provides income for the community; it’s a socio-cultural activity because it preserves our tradition, but most importantly it manifests bio-culturally – because the community of Tlahuitoltepec is a living entity, because it’s not in the past, it’s not a museum, it’s not folklore, but a people with our own culture and worldview.
In this respect, the Municipal Government of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec together with the general population raise our voice once again against the company Anthropologie which is appropriating elements of our culture, identity and worldview for profit.”
The Municipal Government of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec demands:
That the American company Anthropologie immediately suspends the sale of the “Marka Embroidered Shorts” on their website to end the plagiarism of our graphic designs.
That Anthropologie recognizes and gives credit for the design to the town of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec. Additionally, they make a public apology to our community for the grave damage that they are causing by denying the universal human right of recognizing the creations, intellectual property and bio-cultural heritage of our people.
The plagiarism and appropriation of indigenous, Mexican designs is a systemic issue in the fashion industry. Just for the Mixe people of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec their Xaam Nïxuy blouse has been plagiarized 5 times between 2009-2019 by fashion brands within Mexico and internationally. Across Mexico, 39 cases of plagiarism by 23 fashion brands including Zara and Carolina Herrera have been registered between 2012-2019 for appropriating the designs of indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Hidalgo. Many of the textile designs worn and produced by these communities are specific to their region; they are historical markers of culture and identity. The appropriation of these communities’ cultural heritage by the fashion industry is not only plagiarism, but a manifestation of colonialism and racism that fails to respect the work and heritage of indigenous people. Without actions by the Mexican government and the general public to hold these companies accountable for their actions, this exploitation will continue.
Campaña en redes: