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The contentious shorts sold by Anthropologie. The contentious shorts sold by Anthropologie.

Oaxaca community repeats demand that US brand halts sale of shorts

Santa María Tlahuitoltepec claims Anthropologie is using a plagiarized indigenous design

Authorities in a municipality that is part of the Mixe district in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte region have demanded for a second time that a United States fashion brand stop selling shorts they claim are plagiarized from an indigenous design.

“The community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec is once again raising its voice against the company Anthropologie, which for purposes of profit is appropriating elements of our culture, identity and worldview,” the municipal government said in a statement.

“The authorities of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec demand that Anthropologie immediately suspend the sale of its Marka embroidered shorts,” it added.

They also called for the company to acknowledge that its shorts were inspired by a Santa María Tlahuitoltepec design and issue “a public apology to our community.”

The design of the shorts incorporates patterns that were “undeniably” copied from the Xaam nïxuy blouse, the government said, adding that the garment was plagiarized five times between 2009 and 2019 “by fashion brands within Mexico and internationally.”

“In all of Mexico, 39 cases of plagiarism were recorded between 2012 and 2019 by 23 fashion brands such as Zara and Carolina Herrera, who appropriated designs from indigenous communities of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Hidalgo,” the statement said.

The federal Culture Ministry announced in late May that it had sent letters to Anthropologie as well as Zara and Patowl in which it laid out its opposition to “improper cultural appropriation” and called on each company to provide a public explanation detailing “on what basis it could privatize collective property, making use of cultural elements whose origin is identified in several communities of Oaxaca.”

Despite Santa María Tlahuitoltepec’s repeated demands that Anthropologie cease selling its Marka shorts, the item remains available on the company’s website. A pair sells for 1,676 pesos, or US $84.

With reports from El Universal 

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