The Mexican Ministry of Culture has accused brands like Zara, Anthropologie and Patowl of cultural appropriation. The Ministry of Culture sent letters signed by Mexico's Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto to all three brands, asking each for a public explanation about the basis on which they thought they could privatize collective cultural property.
The brands have been accused of using patterns from indigenous southern Mexican groups in their garments and designs without providing any credit or benefit to the communities. Zara, owned by the world’s largest clothing retailer, Inditex, is facing the accusations due to an embroidered mint midi dress that bears a resemblance to patterns from Mexico’s Mixteca community from the state of Oaxaca. Anthropologie’s blue lounge shorts have been pointed out by the Mexican Ministry of Culture as being taken from the Mixe community of Santa María, Oaxaca. UK-based brand Patowl’s printed t-shirts were also identified as “a faithful copy” of the traditional clothing of the indigenous Zapotec community of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca, in a statement from the Cultural Ministry.
While Anthropologie’s parent company URBN and Patowl did not give an immediate statement, Inditex said in a statement, “The design in question was in no way intentionally borrowed from or influenced by the artistry of the Mixtec people of Mexico.”
This incident comes after an Australian clothing brand, Zimmermann, was charged by the Oaxaca Artisans Institute in southern Mexico earlier this year with plagiarising from the Mazatec community for its 2021 resort collection. The brand eventually ended up withdrawing the item from sale and claimed the error had been unintentional.
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