1 Aug 2022
Mexico has inherited a rich cultural heritage from its indigenous ancestors such as the Aztecs and the Mayas that were both major civilisations of Central America in centuries past. The Mexican Ministry of Culture protects the motifs, colours, patterns, embroidery, and symbols of these millennial cultures from misappropriation by foreign designers. Such original creations are used to enhance their products, make them more marketable, and in this way make monetary gain from them. In the past, Mexico has lodged complaints against major clothing brands for using indigenous designs peculiar to local artisans. These companies include Zara and Mango. Now, the Culture Ministry has sent a letter to the Chinese fast-fashion online retailer SHEIN, demanding an explanation for the use of a design by Mayan artisans. Mexico maintains that the Mayan floral design used by SHEIN is “plagiarism” or “abuse of intellectual property” for commercial gain and has asked for a public explanation. Using artisan designs to decorate bags, leather jackets and other small leathergoods in industrial or series manufacturing, effectively prejudices the creative work of artisans that are the proprietors of such original designs.

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