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‘Indigenous communities’ benefit from ‘Mexican fashion policies’!

At a fashion show in Mexico City sponsored by the government to benefit underrepresented Indigenous groups, clothing designers are showcasing their creations that are influenced by traditional Mexican themes, embroidery, and colours. At the first of the ‘Original’ event’s seven parades, traditional clothing from the Tzotzil people of Chiapas, Michoacan embroidery designs, and shirts from Oaxaca were on display.

Carlos Alberto Delgado Martinez, one of the around 500 exhibitors at the festival, which is taking place at the Los Pinos former presidential house and runs through Sunday, said: ‘The creation of each object manufactured in our community is a heritage of our forefathers.  Because every item of clothing has a deeper meaning, it is crucial that we artists protect our culture against copying. Each needlework is explained ‘, he added.

The goal of ‘Original,’ which will launch its second edition in 2021, is to combat what Mexico terms the appropriation of Indigenous textiles by multinational clothing labels as well as to promote a more fair fashion sector. According to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday, ‘we’re not against (the large fashion firms) utilising elements of pre-Hispanic heritage’ as long as they acknowledge ‘the intellectual effort and creativity’ of Mexican artists.

According to Lopez Obrador’s spokesperson Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, ‘the administration is following a programme of restoring the dignity of Indigenous peoples’.  He emphasised the government’s humanitarian initiatives for underprivileged indigenous communities, saying ‘Mexico would not be what it is without its Indigenous peoples.  It’s time for them to take the lead in creating the identity of the (nation). Today, we appreciate their artistic creations,’ he added.

Major apparel companies including Zara, Mango, and SHEIN have received accusations from Mexico for allegedly appropriating traditional practises. After Beatriz Gutierrez, Lopez Obrador’s wife, accused the company of stealing Native American designs, Ralph Lauren, a US fashion firm, issued apologies last month. 2020 saw another apology from French fashion designer Isabel Marant for using indigenous peoples’ traditional motifs. The Mexican Ministry of Culture has urged ‘ethical partnership’ between fashion designers and makers.

‘No to plagiarism. No to cultural appropriation. Yes to original creations and the communities behind them,’ Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto said.   Additionally, the government is working to prohibit overseas sales of pre-Hispanic artefacts that Lopez Obrador has dubbed ‘immoral’ and to return them from their current location. ‘Want to purchase some Mexican art? Purchase this living one ‘, Frausto remarked, pointing to models wearing belts, shirts, and blouses created by Native American artists.


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