Mexico demands an explanation from Zara, Anthropologie and Patowl amidst 'cultural appropriation' accusations


Fashion moguls Zara, Anthropologie, and Patowl were recently under fire after the Mexcian Ministry of Culture accused them of 'cultural appropriation.' In a statement released on Friday, the Ministry said that it had sent letters signed by Mexico's Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto to all three global companies, requesting the companies to provide an explanation.

According to the ministry, Zara used a pattern that is distinctive to the indigenous Mixteca community, Anthropologie used a design style developed by the indigenous Mixe community, and Patowl copied a pattern from the indigenous Zapoteco community. There was neither any credit nor benefits given to the communities.

Image: Secretariat of Culture of Mexico

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Zara, owned by the Inditex conglomerate, imitated the embroidery of the Mixtec huipiles from Oaxaca on one of its dresses from its new collection. The Ministry of Culture compared an image of Zara's “Midi dress with a V-neckline and short sleeves. Contrast combined embroidery detail. Belt tied in the same fabric. Low with side openings ” with a handmade garment by the community of San Juan Colorado.

Image: Secretariat of Culture Of Mexico

The Ministry of Culture accused Anthropologie, owned by URBN, of their "Marka embroidered shorts, from Daily Practice by Anthropologie", belonging to the "Daily Practice by Anthropologie" collection, holding distinctive and characteristic elements of culture and identity belonging to the Mixe town of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca.

Image: Secretariat of Culture of Mexico

Patowl's collection showcases patterned t-shirts that refer to the traditional clothing of the indigenous Zapotecs of the community of San Antonio Castillo Velasco.

The Ministry of Culture has asked each for a "public explanation on what basis it could privatize collective property" and how they plan on compensating the communities to whom the designs and style belong. 

(Source - Google, Secretariat of Culture of Mexico)