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23 Nov 2021

Mexico News Daily

Mexico: Ministry of Culture sends letter to Levi's accusing the company of using "elements of Mazatec culture (...) without applying the proper mechanism to obtain permission"

"Levi’s accused of culturally appropriating indigenous designs", 23 November 2021

...A large clothing company has once again been accused of appropriating indigenous Mexican designs, but it did collaborate with a collective that employs Mazatec women from Oaxaca.

The Mexican subsidiary of Levi’s released a premium collection of jeans and jackets that incorporate “embroidered elements belonging to the Mazatec culture of the community of San Felipe Jalapa de Díaz,” the federal Ministry of Culture said in a letter to the company...

The Culture Ministry wrote to Levi’s México and the Draco Textil collective, which collaborated on the manufacture of the Levi’s Premium Original Trucker Jacket collection, to denounce their use of Mazatec designs without obtaining permission from the community first.

It sought an explanation from both Levi’s and Draco and said that “fair economic reward” must be paid to the rights holders of the designs, which are protected by law.

“We invite you to develop respectful work with the indigenous communities within an ethical framework that doesn’t undermine the identity and economy of the [indigenous] peoples,” the Culture Ministry said.

Levi’s México announced its new collection, and the opening of its first store in Oaxaca, in a social media video earlier this month, while a group of female Mazatec and Cuicatec artisans called Texturas de Oaxaca issued a statement last Thursday denouncing its collaboration with Draco Textil as “another exercise of cultural appropriation and concealment of the people and communities behind the embroidered pieces.”

“The companies and visual artists behind the project are named but the names of the artisans that did the embroidery work are omitted,” the women said...

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