Isabel Marant Faces Plagiarism Allegations As Indigenous Mexican Tribe Seek Reparations And Possible Legal Action
For the fashion house of French designer Isabel Marant, the Mexican-inspired dress featured in her Etoile Spring-Summer 2015 collection is causing quite a stir.
Debate over whether the intricately designed dress was simply inspired by or overtly copied from a traditional blouse worn by the Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec women of Southern Mexico came to a head last week. According to The Guardian, the small community of indigenous Mexican women stated in a press conference:
“Isabel Marant is committing a plagiarism because the Etoile spring-summer 2015 collection contains the graphical elements specific to the Tlahuitoltepec blouse, a design which has transcended borders, and is not a novel creation as is affirmed by the designer.”
The designer, however, insists that she was never claiming ownership of the design and Marant's office stated:
“Before the district court of Paris, Isabel Marant is fighting to set the record straight: she has presented submissions which expressly point out that these designs come from the village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico … Moreover, Ms Isabel Marant, after tracing the true origin of these clothes, officially informed the court: ‘For her part, Ms Isabel Marrant does not claim to be the author of this tunic and these designs’.”
Despite Marant's effort to clear her name of plagiarism over the design, the small community of indigenous women are still considering taking legal action and are asking for the designs to be cut from the collection as well as reparations from the fashion house.
Marant's design retails at $182 while the Mexican version only retails at $20. If legal action is taken by the Mexican women, the fashion industry will certainly be keeping its eyes peeled on the decision as the boundary between cultural inspiration and cultural appropriation continues to be an issue that springs up over and over again within the industry.
Furthermore, many people outside of this particular indigenous community who wear this traditional design as a part of their cultural identity consider Isabel Marant's design appropriative and are asking for an apology.
Bustle has reached out for comment from Isabel Marant's office on the state of the accusation but hasn't received any additional at time of press.
Though she does not claim to be the originator of the pattern, the French designer certainly has a responsibility to give credit where it is due and at the very least use the opportunity to recognize the cultural heritage of this particular people. What's more, she has the chance to accept their invitation to her to visit and learn about the artisan women who actually create the multi-generational garment.
It could certainly be an advantageous move for a fashion house to gain knowledge from the Tlahuitoltepec women instead of just profit from their beautiful design.