Fashion designers inspired by traditional Mexican motifs, embroidery and colors exhibit their designs at a fashion fair in Mexico City. This is funded by the government to support marginalized indigenous communities.

    Traditional blouses worn by the Tzotzil people of Chiapas, Michoacan embroidery and Oaxacan shirts were among the garments featured in the first of seven shows at the “Original” event. “Every product made in our community is a legacy from our ancestors,” said Carlos Alberto Delgado Martinez, one of the approximately 500 exhibitors at the event, which runs until Sunday at the former presidential residence of Los Pinos.

    preserve and protect culture

    “It is important that we artists preserve our culture and protect it from plagiarism, because every piece of clothing has a meaning. Every embroidery has an explanation,” he added. As with the first edition in 2021, the “Original” event intends to tackle the plagiarism of indigenous textiles by foreign fashion brands and create a fairer fashion industry.

    “We have nothing against[major fashion houses]using motifs of pre-Hispanic origin,” as long as they recognize “the intellectual work and creativity” of Mexican artists, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday. “The government is working to restore 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, lifting the government’s welfare programs for the impoverished communities. “It is time for them to play a central role in building the country’s identity. Today we recognize their art,” he added. Mexico has filed several lawsuits against major clothing brands such as Zara, Mango and Shein over alleged cultural appropriation.

    “Ethical collaboration” between fashion brands and artists

    Last month, US fashion house Ralph Lauren apologized after Lopez Obrador’s wife Beatriz Gutierrez accused the company of plagiarizing Indigenous designs. French designer Isabel Marant also apologized in 2020 for using the traditional patterns of an indigenous community. The Mexican Ministry of Culture has called for “ethical collaboration” between fashion brands and artists. “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 repatriate pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces from abroad and halt foreign auctions of such items. Lopez Obrador called them “immoral”. “You want to buy Mexican art? Buy this one, it’s alive,” Frausto said, pointing to models wearing blouses, shirts and belts made by indigenous artists. (afp)