Australian company Zimmermann plagiarized designs from Oaxaca indigenous populations


Oaxaca Congress asks IMPI to sanction the alleged plagiarism of Huautla indigenous designs

Mexican authorities asked the Australian brand to explain the elements in two garments; respond and apologize for use without proper credit

The plenary session of the Oaxaca Congress approved sending a statement to the Ministry of Foreign Relations (SRE) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) for the plagiarism suffered by an artisan from the indigenous municipality of Huautla de Jiménez, who complained that an international designer appropriated his embroidery design for profit.

Through the Morena party, which is the majority in the local legislature, Deputy Elisa Zepeda Lagunas, condemned the cultural appropriation that the Australian company Zimmerman made to the embroidery of the traditional huipiles of the municipalities of Huautla de Jiménez and Jalapa de Díaz and demanded that a criminal and administrative sanction be applied by the Mexican government against the offender.

Zepeda Lagunas said that cultural appropriation, also called improper cultural appropriation, is considered a violation of the intellectual property right of a culture of origin.

The Oaxacan legislator from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, in the Sierra Mazateca, expressed that the seriousness of these practices is the context of appropriation, in which indigenous cultures have been despised and dominated, and also that the elements that are deprived of them are disrespectful, reduced to fleeting frivolous fashions of the dominant cultures, extracted from the social context, where “the imitator, who does not experience that kind of oppression, is capable of temporarily“ playing ”with something exotic to them without experiencing the daily discrimination to which the other culture faces.

The Australian company Zimmerman presented a dress from the Resort 2021 collection, where it does not make any reference or mention of Oaxaca, or of the Mazatec municipalities mentioned above.

As elements for his designs, it takes the birds and flowers inspired by the flora and fauna of the Mazatec region and that also represents fundamental elements of the worldview of the indigenous people, as well as the colorful round neck, the lace, the wide sleeves, and details pleats.

According to the artisan’s complaint, the embroidery was taken with treachery and advantage by the designer who went to her hometown for a sample of looms and captured photographs with her cell phone that she never thought would be used for any purpose. profit.


Defense of artisans.

To avoid plagiarism of designs made by artisans, the government of Oaxaca through the Institute of Crafts, reached an agreement so that Amazon in its digital platform Hand Made can include the designs of indigenous women from all Oaxacan towns, with tariffs imposed by the producers themselves.

The platform would only charge a 10 percent commission and the artisans, who are included with their products on the platform, would not charge any penny for the registration fee, which is 600 pesos.

Meanwhile, Governor Alejandro Murat said that the plagiarism of ethnic handicraft and textile designs has happened before, several battles have been faced before by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), the last one that was won was against the designer Carolina Herrera for including in her collection without embroidery permits originating from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.


The Oaxaca Post