Mexico weaves a fashion policy to help indigenous communities

Mexico weaves a fashion policy to help indigenous communities

Clothing designers inspired by traditional Mexican patterns, embroidery and colors exhibited their work at a Mexico City fashion fair promoted by the government to support marginalized indigenous communities.

Traditional blouses made by the Tzotzil people of Chiapas, embroidered designs from Michoacan and shirts from Oaxaca were among the garments on display at the first of seven parades in the “Original” event.

“The creation of every product made in our community is a legacy of our ancestors,” said Carlos Alberto Delgado Martinez, one of some 500 exhibitors at the event, which ran until Sunday in the former presidential residence of Los Pinos.

“It is important that we artisans save our culture and defend it from plagiarism because every garment has a meaning. Every embroidery has an explanation,” he added.

As with the first edition in 2021, “Original” aims to fight what Mexico calls the plagiarism of indigenous textiles by foreign clothing brands and to create a more equitable fashion industry.

“We are not opposed to (the big fashion houses) using patterns of pre-Hispanic origin” as long as they recognize “the intellectual work and creativity” of Mexican artisans, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday. .

“The government is pursuing a policy of restoring the dignity of indigenous peoples,” Lopez Obrador’s spokesman, Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, told AFP.

“Mexico would not be what it is without its indigenous peoples,” he said, pointing to the government’s social programs for these impoverished communities.

“It is time for them to play a central role in the construction of the identity (of the country). Today, we recognize their art,” he added.

Mexico has filed several lawsuits against major clothing brands, including Zara, Mango and SHEIN, for alleged cultural appropriation.

Last month he won an apology from US fashion house Ralph Lauren after Lopez Obrador’s wife, Beatriz Gutierrez, accused him of plagiarizing indigenous designs.

French designer Isabel Marant also apologized in 2020 for using traditional patterns from an indigenous community.

Mexico’s culture ministry has called for “ethical collaboration” between clothing brands and artisans.

“No to plagiarism. No to cultural appropriation. Yes to original creations and the communities behind them,” said Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto.

The government is also trying to recover pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces abroad and to stop foreign auctions of these objects which Lopez Obrador called “immoral”.

“Want to buy Mexican art? Buy this one, which is alive,” Frausto said, pointing to models dressed in blouses, shirts and belts made by indigenous artisans. (AFP)

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