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Mexico demands explanation from Isabel Marant over indigenous designs

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MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s culture ministry on Wednesday questioned French fashion designer Isabel Marant’s use of patterns from indigenous Mexican communities, marking the government’s latest complaint over high-fashion brands appropriating local styles.

According to the ministry, Marant’s latest collection, including a long cape with stripes and starburst designs in gray and brown hues, includes elements from the Purepecha people of Mexico’s Michoacan state.

“I ask you, Ms. Isabel Marant, to publicly explain on what grounds you privatize a collective property … and how its use benefits the creator communities,” Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto said in a letter to the designer.

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“Some symbols that you took have a deep meaning for this culture,” Frausto said, urging protection for the artisans who have historically been “invisible.”

Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto arrives to lay flowers at the memorial for late Mexican graphic artist Francisco Toledo at the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca (IAGO) in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto arrives to lay flowers at the memorial for late Mexican graphic artist Francisco Toledo at the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca (IAGO) in Oaxaca, Mexico.Reuters

Marant’s company, Isabel Marant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The brand’s website says it is committed to ethical and responsible behavior.

In 2015, the company was similarly accused of incorporating designs from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca.

Last year, Mexico called out Venezuela-born designer Carolina Herrera and French fashion house Louis Vuitton for using traditional patterns in their designs, without regard for the people who first brought them to life.

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Mexico demands explanation from Isabel Marant over indigenous designs

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