Mexico weaves fashion policy to help indigenous population

Mexico weaves fashion policy to help indigenous population

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

Traditional blouses made by the Tzotzil people of Chiapas, embroidered patterns from Michoacan and shirts from Oaxaca were among the garments displayed in the first of seven parades at 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 about 500 exhibitors at the event, which ran until Sunday at Los Pino’s former presidential residence.

“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 combat what Mexico calls the plagiarism of indigenous textiles by foreign clothing brands, and to create a fairer fashion industry.

“We are not opposed to (the big fashion houses) using motifs 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 to rehabilitate the dignity of indigenous people, Lopez Obrador’s spokesman Jesus Ramirez Cuevas told AFP.

“Mexico would not be what it is without its indigenous peoples,” he said, emphasizing the government’s social programs for poor such communities.

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

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

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

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

Mexico’s Ministry of Culture 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 bring pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces from abroad and stop foreign auctions of such items, which Lopez Obrador has branded “immoral”.

“You 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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